"Gambling is Like Going to the Edge of a Cliff": Michael Jordan Once Confessed Betting Replaced the Rush of Basketball After Retirement

Credits: USA Today Sports and plazalasvegas @ Instagram

In the early 1990s, Michael Jordan faced intense scrutiny because of his gambling addiction. Things were so dire that the NBA had to launch a probe against the Bulls star, which ultimately cleared him. Therefore, it was not surprising that a question about his gambling habits popped up during his 2007 GQ interview. Instead of being defensive, the Bulls legend answered the question in a rather sharp manner. He refuted the claim that gambling is a big issue for him as people make it out to be.

During the GQ interview, he was described as a “thrill seeker”. The six-time NBA Champion was also asked whether the placing of bets gives him a similar “adrenaline rush” as playing basketball at the highest level. This question became even more pertinent because MJ had retired as an NBA player four years before this GQ feature. The former Bulls star admitted that he indeed enjoyed the thrills of gambling.

To me, gambling is like going to the edge of a cliff and then calculating what the choices may be,” replied the iconic hooper.

There are numerous examples of gambling addiction ruining families because of persistent debt and emotional toll. There was also a prevalent narrative circulated by the media in the 90s that MJ’s gambling habits led to arguments within his family, some going as far as linking his father’s death to a gambling debt. However, the Bulls legend insisted that his gambling addiction didn’t reach a point where it would put his family in harm’s way.

You may push it a step further but never to the point where it endangers you or your wealth or your family,” revealed MJ.

Jordan then once again pushed the belief that he could control his gambling urges to an extent. He expressed that he “can go days and weeks without gambling.” And when he loses too much money, he can “walk away from it.”

Apart from that, the “thrill-seeker” revealed that he loves the pursuit when there are “high stakes” involved. The nervousness is what drives him to engage in the craft even more. He added, “If I’m sitting here with a twenty and the dealer’s got an ace showing, I’m going to gamble. Or I’ve got a seven and a four against a ten. Most people who are not thrill seekers are not going to double that down.”

While during the interview, MJ downplayed his gambling habits, the scrutiny on him in the early 1990s was sky-high. However, during that period, then NBA Commissioner David Stern had spoken in his defense.

When David Stern shielded Michael Jordan from excess scrutiny

As MJ’s gambling habits came to the surface, there were fears that he might have been betting on NBA games. However, in 1993, Stern rubbished such claims. During a press conference, the league commissioner stated, “Michael Jordan has not violated any NBA rule. Nor has he violated any rule we plan to enact or it would be wise to enact.”

When speaking about whether there was evidence of the Bulls superstar betting on NBA games, Stern clarified, “We are satisfied there is no problem there at the current time.” This was a huge relief for Jordan as his past was being scratched.

His association with hustler James “Slim” Bouler was well-known. The two often engaged in high-stakes golf and once Bouler even managed to hustle Jordan for $57,000. However, the hustler was ultimately convicted of drug dealing. This shady association brought further questions on MJ. Is Jordan related to other hustlers? Has he violated any federal law? Fortunately for MJ, he hasn’t had to deal with any consequences thus far.

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