When NBA superstar J.R. Smith had his home broken into and a luggage bag stolen back in 2010, he didn’t shy away from saying what was in it. The then Denver Nuggets shooting guard told police straight up that the thieves had stolen $15,000 of his gambling bankroll.
Like Smith, many NBA players who love gambling aren’t shy about it. When they lost, they have admitted publicly. When they win substantial amounts of money, they make everyone aware of it. Here are all the superstars who love gaming and interesting stories about them.
Love him or hate him but Michael Jeffrey Jordan is arguably the best player to ever grace the game of basketball. Outside of his wonderful career in the NBA, Jordan is also famous for his competitive gaming habits.
There are numerous stories about Jordan’s love for gambling. One of the most interesting ones is that MJ used to bet as much as 100,000 in the game of rock, paper, and scissors. Like, seriously? If that’s not crazy enough, you’ll be shocked to learn that Jordan occasionally asked people to wager against him out of the blues.
According to Richard Esquinas, former CEO of a golf sports club in San Diego, the Chicago Bulls legend used to visit his club to play golf with him. But while at it, he would challenge the manager to gamble on their golf games every other time. To this date, Esquinas claims Jordan owes him roughly $1 million, down from $1.3m after he accepted to pay 300K.
Speaking of 300K, that’s the amount of money Jordan would gamble with his long-time friend Charles Barkley. Remember the rumors that Jordan spent most of the time partying at night when representing the USA in the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona? The rumors were true.
Another absurd bet Michael has admitted to doing concerns betting about which player received their luggage bag first after the Barcelona Olympics. He won $900, but not without bribing airport officials. Classic Jordan.
The most notorious Michael Jordan gambling story is certainly the 1993 playoff games. During one game against the New York Knick, Jordan spent the night before gambling in Atlantic City. The following day, the Bulls lost- -making him a prime target by the media.
Known as “Sir Charles” by his peers, the Phoenix Suns legend is another NBA former superstar that fancies gaming. While doing an ESPN interview, Barkley admitted to having lost $10 million through gaming over the years. At one time, Barkley lost $2.5 million in a six-hour timeframe back in 2006.
Barkley would later quit gambling after a Las Vegas strip club sued him $400,000 in gambling debts.
“I like to go into Vegas, it’s a fun place, but you know what, I’ve got to stop gambling,” Barkley said during a TNT pre-game show.
After a two-year, self-imposed gambling break, Barkley got back to gaming. This time, the Suns’ legend came up with a plan to ensure he wouldn’t run into gambling debts. Instead of losing millions a day like he used to, Barkley stops betting as soon as he is $200,000 down.
“If you do it in moderation, it’s alright,” Barkley said. “And now with my gambling, ‘Cause I love it. I love the action, I love the juice. But I just learned to do it right.”
A New York Knicks legend, Charles Oakley is known for his talent, discipline and his legendary rebounding skills. Outside of the NBA, Oakley is a known gamer albeit without some bad press. Unlike Jordan and Barkley who are famous for their big wagers, Oakley’s association with gambling also involves lawsuits.
Last year, the power forward avoided jail time after he was sued by a Las Vegas strip for cheating at a casino. Oakley faced a prison sentence of up to six years had he not resolved the lawsuit. Lucky for him, he ended up paying a fine of only $1,000.
So, what crime had Oakley done? According to the Nevada Gaming Control Board, the forward was being sued for “adding or reducing his wager” after the outcome of a game had become clear. Crimes like that are treated as felonies but rarely are people ever imprisoned.
For an NBA great, it would probably be better to play online and avoid the bad press that comes with lawsuits. New casinos are launched every month, most with the same games as Las Vegas games. The only difference is the experience given by Vegas clubs, which is still not worth spoiling your reputation.
There is no NBA superstar who loved gambling as much as former Celtics player Antoine Walker did. So much did Walker feed the gaming lifestyle that he brought down his $108 million financial empire.
To be fair to gaming, Walker didn’t waste all his wealth gambling. Most of the money was spent on lavish homes, jewelry and cars.
“I created a very expensive lifestyle. That’s how you lose your wealth real bad,” the NBA great once said in an interview with CNN.
Another mistake Walker did was to give out his wealth to anybody that knew him. He spoiled everyone that asked for a favor. Given that many of his investments were in real estates, the 2007/2008 financial recession added a blow to him.
In 2010, Las Vegas put the final nail to Walker’s financial status when they sued him $822,000 after he was caught writing bad checks. Like Oakley, the former superstar avoided jail term with a mere fine and accepting to pay off his debts.
While everyone else is busy working to pay their bills, some NBA superstars usually spend their free time gambling thousands of dollars. For some, like Jordan and Barkley, a night out with friends can end up with millions of dollars gambled. To them, that’s pocket change—except for Oakley who was very unlucky and made some bad mistakes at times.
But like Barkley has said before if you have to gamble, bet with small amounts you can afford to lose.