Michael Jordan’s gambling and Grudges

In last week’s episode we highlighted MJ’s first championship and how Phil Jackson played a big role into all of this. This week we explore the main key highlights especially Michael Jordan’s grievances off the court, his gambling/competitive sides and how it affected him mentally during the infamous 1993 playoffs series v.s the Knicks.

Michael Jordan 1993 NBA Finals
CHICAGO – JUNE 18: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls attempts a shot against Dan Majerle #9 of the Phoenix Suns in Game Five of the 1993 NBA Finals on June 18, 1993 at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois. The Suns won 108-98. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1993 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

No one ever brings up how exhausting it was to be Michael Jordan. It doesn’t fit the narrative. He could outshoot you, out-hustle you, melt your defense, and stop you on the other end. He was a two-way player who gave it his all, and his all, of all the alls, trumped everyone else’s. His reputation isn’t all roses and rings. Jordan was—is?—kind of an asshole. 

That much is known, even championed. He gambles. A lot. Maybe too much. Definitely in the millions, but that’s not my money nor my card game. He broke many hearts when he said “Republicans buy sneakers, too.” Those actions suggest he’s inconsiderate, destructive, or self-centered. But none of them indicate exhaustion. Exhaustion is something else. Exhaustion is not a character flaw; it’s a sign of weakness. And there’s no mention of weakness in the Michael Jordan story.

But Jordan was tired.

At the end of the sixth episode, MJ is shown in the car with his friend, NBC broadcaster Ahmad Rashad. It’s April 1998, one week before the playoffs are about to begin, and the discussion around whether Jordan will really leave the game (again) is all anyone can talk about. Jordan drives out of his estate as iron gates with the number “23” on each side split open to let the two through. “I want to leave two years before my skills tell me I can’t play this game,” Jordan tells Rashad. “I don’t want to miss my time to go.”

Sunday’s episodes show the Bulls star’s frustration and fatigue, along with a handful of other iconic Jordan basketball stories—the kind that do fit in to his legend.

Episodes 07 and Episode 08 debut next Sunday on ESPN and ESPN2

You’ll Also Learn

  • Michael Jordan’s Kobe story.
  • Who was the mastermind behind MJ getting to sign with Nike
  • The infamous 1992 Scrimmage.
  • Michael’s reasons for retiring the first time.


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