The NBA is the most famous league in sports, and its history is filled with story after story of players who have been accused of gambling on sports. The star-studded ’90s era was dominated by gambling scandals, and players like Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, and Charles Oakley have all been accused of sports gambling. But it was the ’90s that saw an all-time high in gambling scandals, and it was the Chicago Bulls that were the epicenter of the league’s gambling problems.
It was a long time ago when Michael Jordan was a young, handsome and cocky lad (and before his gambling exploits), and while he was playing high school basketball in Wilmington, North Carolina, he was noticed by a local legend.
As we saw in The Last Dance, Michael Jordan was able to take almost anything at face value and use it as motivation to win. However, this ambition to be the best was not limited to the basketball court. Her Majesty also proved to be a prolific player, taking almost every opportunity to assert her dominance and separate her colleagues from their money.
While most MJ stories are about golf, a new game nugget has been released. According to Brian Urlacher, he and Jordan once went bowling and bowled for $100 a pin.
Thanks to the Nike deal, NBA ownership and celebrity status, His Majesty has amassed a fortune of around $1.6 billion. While that number was a bit lower during his playing career, the former Chicago Bulls star never had a problem putting his hand in his wallet and betting on just about anything.
While golf and card games were obvious – Jordan was even known to go out on the course on game days – this was not the only way MJ played. He bet on the Jumbotron race, on which bag would go into the airport baggage carousel first, and bet more than a few pounds on a game of rock, paper, scissors. And he had the inner pig where possible to ensure victory.
Even now that he’s retired, his fighting spirit hasn’t waned. He has made bets on Charlotte Hornets players and has strict criteria for those who want to be at the table or on the golf course with him.
Although Brian Urlacher never reached the level of Michael Jordan, he made a name for himself as a player for the Chicago Bears. His celebrity status allowed him to spend time with His Lordship at the golf course and bowling alley. Not surprisingly, gambling also played a role in these raids.
I played [golf] with Mikael in my second year, midfielder Cooper Manning told Soup . When I was younger it cost about £100 for nine. It doesn’t matter if you lose three or five hundred pounds.
When the couple went bowling, the bets should have turned out a little differently. But MJ and Urlacher still found a way to raise the stakes.
One year we bowled for a hundred pounds a pin, continued the former Chicago Bear. Like in 2005 or . We went bowling for $100. … I did well that day. I got 190 points in bowling.
Not knowing how good Her Highness was at bowling, Urlacher took a risk that day by going to the lane. If the two men had played only one game, which suggested a score of 190, the maximum deficit could have been 110 pins if Jordan had hypothetically achieved a perfect score of 300. In this worst-case scenario, the midfielder would have lost $11,000. Even if MJ only won about 20 pins in each game, that would be a total of $2,000 in 10 frames.
Even if Urlacher can afford to lose, it’s still a little more expensive than renting a pair of shoes and buying chips at a restaurant.
NBA legend Michael Jordan smokes a cigar on the golf course. | Stan Badz/PGA TOUR)
With everything we know about Jordan, we can assume he plays for what he’s worth on the golf course. His Majesty granted Urlacher clemency in this regard at least once.
Although the Bears’ midfielder had no problem performing in front of an enthusiastic crowd every weekend, his nerves still flared when he played against a living basketball legend. On the first pitch, I hit the ball 70 yards straight to left, Urlacher said. And [Jordan] said: Everyone does that to me on the first tee. He said: I’ll give you another one.
While this seems like a simple gesture – given how much golf he plays, MJ could probably save his partners at least one stroke – it wasn’t obvious. Jordan is known for pushing the boundaries of normal court etiquette when it comes to winning. Ask Michael Douglas.
I played with Michael Jordan a few times and I remember one time I was fooling around and taking one of his putt bets, Douglas told Chris Nashawati of Golf.com. He wanted it to be an insane amount – thousands. I’m not a big fan of gambling. I set up to hit and Jordan starts ripping the velcro off his golf glove. I was like that too: What are you doing? And he said: Listen, boy. If I can make a free throw when 20,000 people are screaming at me, you can make a putt when I make a little noise.
You can say all sorts of things about the way he competes, but you can’t forget the encounter with his tune.
COMPARED TO: Michael Jordan’s $3 billion relationship with Nike almost ended prematurely due to a broken foot
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