Jordan played golf and cards with several NBA players. While most of them enjoyed hanging out with the Bulls superstar since he was the most popular athlete in the world during the ’90s, one Charlotte Hornets player couldn’t wait for Jordan to leave his house after the two played cards for more than seven hours.
Michael Jordan played cards with Kendall Gill until he won his money back
In an interview with Chicago sports historian Jack M Silverstein, Kendall Gill — who appeared in 966 NBA games — said he played cards with Jordan for more than seven hours once since Black Jesus wouldn’t leave his house until he won all of his money back.
“They talk about his competitive drive all the time. It is true. They don’t stretch the truth as far as his competitiveness is concerned,” Gill said about Jordan. “One day, he was at my house when I was in Charlotte. We were playing cards from about twelve o’clock that night all the way to seven in the morning because I was beating him out of his money. He would not let me stop playing until he won all his money back. That ended up about 7:30 in the morning. Most people would be like, ‘Oh my God, Michael Jordan is in my house.’ Most people would love that. I was ready for him to leave. I wanted him to go.”
Jordan said many times during his Bulls tenure he didn’t have a gambling problem and that he had a competition problem. He was forced to defend his reputation in 1993 after he gambled in an Atlantic City hotel the night before the Bulls played Game 2 of the ’93 Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Knicks.
Michael Jordan gambled in Atlantic City during playoffs
The Bulls and Knicks faced off in the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals. New York won Game 1 by eight points, and Jordan only shot 10-of-27 from the field. Fans expected Air Jordan to play better in Game 2, but he shot 12-of-32 in that contest, with the Bulls losing once again.
The pressure was already on Jordan to play well in Game 3 in Chicago. The New York Times’ report on him gambling in Atlantic City before Game 2 didn’t help. The 10-time scoring champion went to “Monopoly City” and didn’t get back to his New York City hotel until 1:00 in the morning. The media and fans destroyed him for it.
Jordan said he went to Atlantic City with his father to take his mind off of basketball. While the Bulls won Game 3 at home, MJ had an awful shooting night, going 3-of-18 from the floor. Pundits wondered whether Jordan’s passion for gambling was getting to him, but the basketball icon proved it wasn’t.
MJ scored 54 points in Game 4, went on to win title
In Game 4 against the Knicks, Jordan went off, dropping 54 points and helping the Bulls even the series at 2-2. Chicago won Games 5 and 6 as well to wrap up the series after losing the first two games. Jordan had 29 points in Game 5 and 25 in Game 6.
The Bulls faced the Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals. With his Atlantic City fiasco behind him, Jordan poured all his energy into demolishing the Suns, who were led by Charles Barkley. The Hall of Famer averaged 41.0 points in the six-game series and captured his third straight title and Finals MVP.
It’s a good thing that Jordan rebounded during the Knicks series and guided the Bulls to the championship. Otherwise, he could have been crucified for going to Atlantic City and gambling during the playoffs for the rest of his career.
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