Anyone who has ever been to an NBA game has played along with the jumbotron games during timeouts. Some arenas put a cartoon ball under a hat and shuffle the hats around. Other cities put on cartoon races or trivia games for fans to stay involved during stoppages. It turns out Michael Jordan, who gambled on anything and everything he could, loved these games as much as the families in the nosebleeds. He bet teammates $100 he could win the jumbotron games on the bench, and he even cheated to win.
Michael Jordan was an avid gambler in the NBA
Michael Jordan was a winner on and off the court. On the court, he won six NBA championships. When he wasn’t playing basketball, though, he was trying to win money off the court.
Jordan’s gambling tales are epic. From betting $100,000 per hole in golf matches to betting teammates whose luggage would appear first in the airport, there was nothing Jordan couldn’t turn into a gambling game.
MJ also had an affinity for casinos. He was rumored to lose almost $5 million on the craps table in a single night. He also visited a casino the night before a playoff game. In fact, he frequented casinos prior to games all the time. Jordan often hit the poker table the morning before a game. Obviously, it never affected his play.
MJ even gambled on the bench during NBA games
Jordan loved gambling so much that he couldn’t even stop himself while playing NBA games. During timeouts in Chicago, Jordan would bet teammates on the bench that he could win the jumbotron games. Someone always took him up on it, and Jordan rarely lost.
Scottie Pippen and Steve Kerr appeared on ESPN’s “The Jump” this week and reminisced about those magical Bulls’ teams. They both shared a laugh when talking about Jordan winning money off teammates during games.
Pippen said Jordan would bet $100 with one of the team’s security guards every game. Jordan was so good at picking the winner that he won over $4,000 off the security guard, Pippen said. It turns out it wasn’t just luck, though. Jordan had a trick up his sleeve.
Jordan cheated and knew the winner of every game beforehand
Jordan wasn’t just good at picking the jumbotron winners because he was lucky. He always had an ace in the hole.
Before games, Jordan would get tipped off by the arena video crew in Chicago. He knew the winner before the game even started. If a teammate or Bulls staffer dared to bet Jordan during a timeout, they had to pick correctly or Jordan would easily take 100 bucks from their pocket.
It’s hard to believe Michael Jordan was out on an NBA court taking people’s money during timeouts while averaging over 30 points a game. He was more focused on the jumbotron than his coach on the bench. Jordan was a rare breed that will never be replicated in NBA history.