Just recently, the Supreme Court voted to a decision that sports betting be legalized in the United States. Now, states have the freedom to offer sports betting legally. Essentially, people can wager on games without legal concerns once their states have established the necessary infrastructures to cater to their constituents’ betting needs.
Long before this Supreme Court decision, however, professional basketball players have been gambling their millions away. Although they are not allowed to bet on their league’s games in the same way that Pete Rose did it to baseball, which against MLB rules, NBA players are known to be some of the biggest conscienceless group of gambling creatures around.
We all probably have heard stories of NBA players playing card games during team flights, making detours to casinos during the season much more during the offseason, and wagering huge sums of money over a round of golf.
When they’re not shooting the ball, chances are these pro hoopers are out somewhere shooting craps. When you’re young with a fat bank account, what else are you supposed to do?
And since betting and gambling appear to be topical these days, let’s have a list of some of the baddest NBA players when it comes to this vice.
Antoine Walker made a name for himself on the basketball court. Off of it, he’s known for a rather more ignominious fact. Throughout his NBA career, the three-time All-Star earned over $100 million in salary – and almost blew it all.
He’s one of the best known riches-to-rags cases in the NBA, as he suffered from a severe lack of financial sense, paying for almost anything for his friends and family. Another huge culprit to his eventual financial drain was gambling.
In 2009, Walker was charged with three counts of felony related to his incurred casino debts which he tried to pay by writing checks with insufficient funds. He was later arrested inside a casino in Las Vegas.
Douglas County sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Halsey said a Harrah’s Tahoe employee who had seen a television news report about an arrest warrant issued Wednesday for Walker recognized the 6-foot-9 power forward Thursday in a casino bar and summoned deputies.
Long before IK Enemkpali smushed Geno Smith’s face in over a $600 debt, there was the story of Charles Oakley destroying Tyrone Hill when the latter was a little slow to pay the $54,000 he owed Oak from a dice game.
In 2001, Oakley was even suspended one game and was asked to pay $10,000 for hitting Hill with a ball during shootaround. He also issued a warning then to Hill that if he fails to pay on time, he’ll double his debt.
“Everything in life is double,” Oakley said before Wednesday’s game. “If he didn’t pay me $108,000, he didn’t pay me.”
No one messes with the Oak.
During his heydays, The Answer had no solutions to his gambling addiction. Iverson pocketed more than $200 million from his NBA playing career and spent a good chunk of his money on casino tables.
Iverson did not just content himself of blowing stacks of cash in casinos. He earned even more notoriety by being such a bad loser on the table that at least two Detroit casinos banned him from entering their properties.
A regular casino visitor since he arrived in town, the blog said Iverson has been “banned mostly for his boorish behavior. He is a bad loser, and he loses a lot, often throwing his chips or cards at the dealer. He has been warned about improper behavior at the tables repeatedly. He is often loud and disruptive, according to witnesses, rude to dealers, other players and the wait staff.”
Iverson’s proclivity for making trips to casinos also gave us a strange yet unintentionally hilarious story about a young Lou Williams being made to wait outside an Atlantic City casino by the Philadelphia 76ers legend because he was then not old enough to be allowed inside such an establishment, according to Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated.
“A.I. didn’t ask me to do a bunch of stuff for him,” Williams remembers. “He just wanted me around. Usually we were at the Friday’s in Philly, which he should have bought, because he was there so much. But once he took me to a casino in Atlantic City even though I couldn’t get in. So I sat in the lobby while he gambled. It was fine with me. I was with my idol.”
Sir Charles is an outspoken TV personality as an analyst for TNT. Often times, he’d make it to the headlines by making blunt and outrageous comments in his commentaries.
From time to time, though, you’d read articles mentioning Barkley’s gambling adventures. Barkley loves to bet big. He’s admitted before that he has a gambling problem and even once said that he lost more than $10 million in gambling alone.
In an ESPN interview in May 2006, Barkley estimated that he’d lost about $10 million gambling over the years. He said Monday that he lost $2.5 million “in a six-hour period” one night last year.
That report came 11 years ago, so we could just imagine how many more millions the Hall of Famer has lost since. However, Barkley also said a year later that he’d put a halt to his gambling ways after collecting gambling debts at a Las Vegas Strip casino worth a dizzying total of $400,000.
“I like to go into Vegas, it’s a fun place, but you know what, I’ve got to stop gambling. That’s the bottom line,” Barkley said during TNT’s pregame show before Game 7 between San Antonio and New Orleans. “I am not going to gamble anymore. For right now, the next year or two, I’m not going to gamble.”
The game-winning, shot hitting, Cuban cigar-smoking, multi-championship-winning basketball icon is also a huge gambler. Michael Jeffrey Jordan is the NBA’s GOAT not only on the floor, but on the poker table and on the links as well.
Jordan’s gambling exploits could be traced to that controversial 1993 trip to an Atlantic City casino only a night before a game against the New York Knicks in the playoffs.
Here’s an excerpt from a story by Dave Anderson for The New York Times:
Michael Jordan turned the Knicks’ home-court advantage into the Knicks’ home-casino advantage.
Monday evening and early Tuesday morning, in the hours when Jordan’s time might have been better spent resting for the second game of the Eastern Conference final between the Bulls and the Knicks, he was sighted by hotel guests in the baccarat pit in Bally’s Grand casino in Atlantic City.
It’s a good thing for Jordan social media were not around then. Otherwise, he probably would have been heavily vilified for it.
But even before that 1993 playoffs casino visit, Jordan had always found time to flick his wrists on the tables.
Gambling attracts Jordan, often seen in the Monte Carlo casino in Monaco when the Dream Team was practicing there last summer before the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
There’s also the rumor that Jordan’s first retirement was just a press release excuse for a suspension in relation to his gambling problem. In the book Michael & Me, Richard Esquinas said that MJ had to pay him over $1 million worth of gambling debts over golf. Jordan earns more than he could spend. With a net worth of $1.65 billion (BILLION), it’s going to take a whole lot of wagering before it becomes a financial problem for the six-time NBA champ