A young Jamal Crawford gave up Mercedes to settle gambling debt
According to The Undefeated’s Mike Wise, a rookie Crawford amassed a six-figure gambling debt after two nights of shooting craps, forcing him to give up his Mercedes-Benz.
The Michigan product was drafted eighth overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2000, but he was soon traded to the Chicago Bulls where he met Jordan, who was then hanging around the Bulls’ facility attempting an NBA comeback.
After playing pickup games with the legend at Hoops The Gym, Jordan and Antoine Walker played cards, while him and Ray Allen decided to shoot craps with a small group that was believed to be mostly professional gamblers.
The Seattle native had grown up playing the game in the streets and had won hundreds, or even thousands of dollars as a teenager.
Crawford repeatedly kept losing and made bets with money he didn’t have, as he only brought $2,000 with him:
“They would be like, ‘OK, you bet two grand on this one, OK lost,” Crawford recalled. “Then they’d say, ‘Now we will bet three on this one [roll]. Oops, lost. Now you down 15 [grand]. So it wasn’t like cash was coming out, it was like air money. But it was money I was going to have to pay somehow eventually.”
Unlike established veterans like Allen, Walker, and bonafide multimillionaire Jordan — Crawford was on a rookie contract, a much less convenient situation than his company.
Over two nights of shooting craps, he piled up a hefty six-figure debt, according to Wise:
A person with intimate knowledge of the game claims Crawford lost several hundred thousand and Allen lost even more. And that, days after the dice game, a call was placed to (Aaron) Goodwin, Crawford’s agent, to inform him that Crawford had not yet squared his debt with one professional gambler.
“OK,” Goodwin said, according to the person with intimate knowledge of the game. “What does he owe? Jamal is good for it.”
“No, you don’t understand,” the go-between said. ‘If he doesn’t pay now, these guys will kill Jamal.”
“Kill Jamal?!! He’s an NBA player. He gets paid as soon as the season starts. Give me the dude’s number.”
The person with knowledge of the game said Goodwin called the man Crawford owed money, set up a payment plan and resolved the issue without incident.
To pay for the second night of bets, Crawford walked out to his brand new gray 2001 Mercedes-Benz S Class 430, took the basketball out of his trunk, and handed over the keys.
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard claims he has never shot craps in 15 years since that incident and it’s taught him to be more responsible:
“It was just this feeling of, man, you think you made it and then you go back to your old ways and do something that completely undermines yourself,” said Crawford. “Honestly, everybody just wanted to be around Michael most of the time and he was doing his thing. I don’t hold anybody responsible but me.”
Luckily enough, Crawford has carved a nice career for himself since then — he’s played for six different teams, earning three Sixth Man of the Year awards in his 16-year career.