"I don't have a gambling problem. I Have A Competition Problem, A Competitive Problem," Michael Jordan once said. And he's probably right.
The common denominator for every MJ gambling story is his unmatched hunger for winning. It was never about the money, or whatever the stakes were. All Mike ever wanted was to come out of every bet victorious.
But he didn't care how he did it. And yes, that involves cheating.
"I bet you my bags come out first"
Michael once used the Chicago Bulls' jumbotron cartoon races to scam the team's security guard. He'd get tipped off by the arena video crew and always pick the right winner. In the end, he beat the guy out of $4,100.
But there's more. And unlike the Jumbotron scam, this one involves Jordan's teammates.
"Back before NBA teams had grasped the rejuvenating power of chartered airplanes, the Bulls were waiting for their luggage in Portland when Jordan slapped a hunny on the conveyor belt: I bet you my bags come out first," Bill Simmons wrote in his ESPN column.
What none of the Bulls knew, and what Michael probably never told them, is that he had bribed a baggage handler to help him out.
"He didn’t pocket much (a few hundred bucks)," Simmons wrote. "Considering his net worth hovered around nine figures at the time, it’s safe to say he didn’t need the extra cash. But that didn’t matter. There was a chance at an easy score, and he took it."
Pippen verifies the story
Before he embarked on the ruining his relationship with Jordan route, Scottie Pippen verified the story about MJ's airport bets. But with a little twist.
According to Pip, Jordan didn't use the tactic of bribing luggage handlers. He did, however, find a different way to give himself a unique advantage and guarantee a win.
“Michael Jordan had his own beautiful bags,” Scottie said. “At this time, we didn’t have team bags, so when you saw a bag come off and it had a Jumpman on it, I’m sure for the guys working at the airport, that was the first bag they grabbed."
For No.23, the end always justified the means. And whatever the case may be, more often than not, Jordan would win the bet. In the end, that's all he ever cared about.
It wasn't about gambling. It was about winning.