Michael Jordan never believed in anybody more than himself. The greatest player in NBA history notoriously called out opponents. He challenged teammates. And he sometimes let that cockiness carry over into the world of gambling.
Some argued that his gambling addiction led to his abrupt NBA retirement. But even if that fallacy has been debunked, there certainly has been no shortage of entertaining MJ stories over the years. Yet, one of the most incredible examples of Michael Jordan’s big bets came in a game that even a child can play: rock, paper, scissors.
Michael Jordan’s legendary NBA career
Any discussion about the best player in NBA history begins and ends with Michael Jordan. There’s no shortage of statistics to back that up. He led the NBA in scoring for seven consecutive seasons. He made the All-Star team every year he played, save for the 1994-95 season in which he suited up for just 17 games. Of course, that can be blamed on his failed foray at playing baseball.
The human highlight reel didn’t just rack up individual stats. Jordan’s insane drive to win helped the Chicago Bulls become arguably the greatest dynasty in NBA history. With Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman forming a rock-solid foundation, Chicago captured six NBA titles in Jordan’s 13 years with the team. In terms of a championship pedigree, only Tom Brady can rival MJ amongst other successful athletes.
A truly once-in-a-lifetime physical specimen, Jordan kept playing at a high level well into his late 30s. Even after wasting spending three years in retirement, he came back to play two more seasons with the Washington Wizards. He and Rip Hamilton formed a top-notch scoring duo. In his last NBA season, Michael Jordan averaged 20 points and probably still could have continued playing well into his 40s.
His Airness was a notorious gambler
Never one to back down from a challenge, Michael Jordan became one of the biggest gamblers in sports history. Though he made millions in his NBA career, some speculated that his betting addiction led to his sudden 1993 retirement. Though former NBA commissioner David Stern put the rumor to rest, it’s just one example of MJ’s well-documented gambling issues.
ESPN talking head Skip Bayless witnessed Jordan’s confident bets during his days in Chicago. The experience of watching the legend sink ridiculous shots for thousands of dollars never left his mind.
Even in his post-playing days, Jordan still found a way to get involved with gambling. Most recently, NBA bust Adam Morrison recalled a story where Jordan, as the Bobcats owner, challenged one of his own players in a poker game. Of course, the stakes weren’t too high for the NBA legend who’s worth more than $2.1 billion.
Jordan’s insane rock, paper, scissors bet
Perhaps the most hilarious Michael Jordan gambling story involves a game that we should all be familiar with. Former NBA player Jay Williams played just 75 games with the Bulls before suffering a career-ending motorcycle accident. However, the former Duke star had a chance to share a piece of MJ history on The Brilliant Idiots Podcast a few years ago and he did not disappoint.
According to Williams, Jordan never backed down the opportunity to gamble on rock, paper, scissors. And this wasn’t your ordinary low-stakes game to settle who shoots first. Instead, players would sometimes bet $20,000 on a single round of the childhood classic.
“And don’t get yourself down in the dice game. Don’t be in the corner and let some dude keep fading you out and all of a sudden you’re down $100,000 and he’s like, ‘Yo bet it back — rock, paper, scissors for $100,000.’”
Of course, $100,000 didn’t represent a major dent in Michael Jordan’s wallet. If he lost that much today in a single game, it wouldn’t even represent a fraction of a percent of his incredible net worth. Apparently for The GOAT, paper always wins.