Michael Jordan opened up about one of the most notorious gambling stories on the latest installation of The Last Dance, but insists he never had a gambling problem.
The NBA Hall of Famer, whose penchant for gambling became the thing of legend during his playing days and beyond, addressed his penchant for wagers in the latest episode of the ESPN docu-series on Sunday. As the New York Post noted, the sixth episode of the series addressed a story about Jordan going to Atlantic City before the Bulls lost Game 2 1993 Eastern Conference Finals to the New York Knicks. Reports at the time said Jordan was seen in the casino lobby past 2:30 a.m. the morning before the game, and looked tired on the court hours later.
In an interview for the episode, Jordan said it wasn’t that big of a deal and disputed reports of staying into the early morning hours.
“We got a limo, we went and gambled for a couple hours, and we came back,” Jordan said. “Everybody went totally ballistic. It wasn’t late. We got home by 12:30, 1 o’clock.”
But the report noted that Jordan had other notorious gambling incidents, including a report that he skipped the team’s 1991 visit to the White House so he could go gambling with a notorious golf hustler named James “Slim” Bouler — who was later arrested on money laundering charges and found with a $57,000 personal check from Jordan.
But Bouler himself put off suggestions that Jordan had a gambling problem. As Yahoo Sports noted, he said in a 1993 interview with the Washington Post that he had loaned money to Jordan to enter some high-stakes card games and got a cut of the winnings in return — but insisted that Jordan didn’t have a problem with gambling.
Bouler did say that Jordan loved to wager, but didn’t consider it to be problematic.
“The only people who are saying Michael Jordan is having a gambling problem are the people who don’t know Michael,” Bouler said. “Some people love to eat. Some people love to fish. Some people like to hunt. Some people like to drink beer. And some people love to gamble. Michael Jordan loves to gamble.”
There were other stories that Jordan hasn’t addressed, Yahoo Sports noted, including conspiracy theories that Jordan’s first retirement in 1993 was really a hush-hush league investigation into money that he owed to gambling losses. Jordan returned to the NBA after spending one year playing minor league baseball.