ESPN’s “The Last Dance” will conclude with episodes 9 and 10 this Sunday night. Michael Jordan’s ‘competition’ problem has been underlined and the stories continue to come out.
Antione Walker had a gambling problem. It was part of the reason he filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy after making $108 million in his 12-year NBA career. Walker lost money in real estate and other ventures as well, but gambling played a part.
Walker did part of that gambling against Michael Jordan with some of his money ending up in Jordan’s pocket at times. Walker however agreed with Jordan, that Jordan does not have a gambling problem.
“I don’t think necessarily he had a gambling problem,” Walker said. “He did have a competition problem. Michael was the type of person if he lost $100,000 he is not going to stop until he gets that $100,000 back and I’ve witnessed that several times.”
Walker told the story of one of those $100,000 nights, only this night was not $100,000, but closer to $1,000,000. The extended night of gambling came after a preseason game when Jordan’s Wizards played Walker’s Celtics, told by Walker to Stadium. Jordan had a restaurant that he opened up late that night so him, Walker and whoever else could play late-night cards.
The night did not start out well for Jordan, Walker remembers.
“Michael’s down 500,000 to 1 million dollars and we literally sat there for about eight hours until he got all the money back,” Walker said. “I was just a cheerleader at that point, keeping him up, drinking coffee up until the wee hours of the night. Not only did he win the million back, but he won a million bucks, so it was an amazing turn of events.”
Staying up all night gambling is not a surprise story when it comes to Jordan. Magic Johnson told a similar story from the 1992 NBA Finals. Jordan, Magic and Larry Bird played all night on The Dream Team. It seems more like a regular day for Jordan.
So does that mean Jordan has a gambling problem that he is unwilling to diagnose? Or, are Walker and Jordan right, that it is a competition problem?
Depends on your point of view. In my mind, it is only a problem if you can’t afford it. Walker clearly had a problem. For Jordan, I consider gambling more of an entertainment tax that he can afford.
The problem, is more for Jordan’s friends who lost out on some quality sleep time and at times money that they could not afford.