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The Best NBA Gambling Stories

The Best NBA Gambling Stories

Professional sport is full of stories about players who have struggled with alcohol, gambling and other excesses. To some fans it may seem strange to see an idol, someone who is playing the sport they love, wasting their hard-earned cash on extra-curricular activities but it’s very easy to see why.

When you’re being paid $134 million a year and have more spare time than the average Joe, gambling and drinking become a huge temptation.

According to a recent report by a sporting body in England, professional athletes are twice as likely to be addicted to gambling as normal people. Anecdotally that figure seems to be higher amongst NBA players, here’s a selection of the craziest NBA gambling stories of all-time.

Michael Jordan

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To many fans and pundits, Michael Jordan is widely regarded as the greatest NBA player of all-time. Whilst that may be up for debate, something that isn’t is the former player’s penchant for all out gambling fun.

During his playing career, Jordan could regularly be seen in Atlantic City wagering high-stakes at all manner of casino games. It wasn’t just casinos where Jordan’s love of gambling got the better of him, one former teammate claims to have seen Jordan betting up to 100k on the outcome of a game of rock, paper scissors.

Golf was another passion of Jordan’s, but he couldn’t even enjoy that without a friendly wager, often plumping 300k on the outcome of a round. All of that pales in significance to his biggest reported loss of $1 million in a behind closed doors casino game.

Charles Barkley


For Charles Barkley losing a million dollars was nothing more than a weekly occurrence at one stage.

If losing $1 million in one gambling game sounds horrendous, can you imagine doing that thirty times? That was the reality for former Suns star Charles Barkley who got caught up in the trap of chasing his losses in Vegas. Similarly to Jordan, Barkley had no particular favorite casino game, he just liked to win, but unfortunately he wasn’t quite as good at gambling as he was at basketball.

Describing his biggest period of gambling, Barkley said that every time he went to Las Vegas he would do so with the aim of winning at least a million dollars. Barkley lived up to his ambition on 10 occasions.

But, it was his pursuit of the big bucks that led him astray, causing him to wager more and more money in pursuit of that elusive million-dollar mark.

All that is behind the former NBA player now after he admitted in a recent interview that he has more control over his gambling. Barkley claimed that he was happy to stop when he was $200,000 down now rather than throwing good money after bad in pursuit of big wins. Although, anyone that is happy to lose $200,000 gambling probably can’t claim to have resolved their gambling problems entirely.

NBA coaches would be well advised to recommend alternative ways to gamble to players like Charles Barkley, such as online casinos, an alternative to traditional flashy Las Vegas style venues.

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Online casinos have much stricter regulations in place to encourage responsible gambling.

Measures such as being able to set maximum wagering amounts, self-exclusion programs and game time reminders all help to make stories like the above much less commonplace at reputable gambling sites. One such casino operator is 777, a trusted and highly recommended site with a great atmosphere that actively encourages responsible gambling, it’s considered by many as a top of the line online casino.

J.R. Smith


NBA stars love splashing their cash in the famous Las Vegas casinos.

J.R. Smith developed a cult persona amongst Cleveland fans thanks to his strange mannerisms on the court and his peculiar interviews.

However, his strangest moment came away from the court when his multi-million-dollar mansion in Denver was burgled by thieves. The item that Smith was most aggrieved to have stolen was a suitcase which contained his gambling money.

It was reported that the suitcase contained almost $15,000 in range of different notes. Keeping thousands of dollars in a suitcase for gambling must just be a run of the mill activity for a rich and famous sports star.

Charles Oakley


What is with the name Charles, basketball and gambling? Charles Oakley’s passion for gambling was probably more akin to Michael Jordan’s than Charles Barkley’s.

Whilst Oakley was a big fan of casino games, he really got his kicks from ‘friendly’ wagers with his teammates. In 2000 he decided to shoot some dice with Tyrone Hill in a hotel room before a playoff game.

The wager between the two stood at a reported $54,000 which Oakley won. Despite winning such a large sum from his teammate, Oakley was far from pleased with how his debt was repaid to him.

Oakley argued that Hill took too long to pay the debt and that because of this the figure had doubled to $108,000. Hill took exception to this arbitrary doubling of the debt and refused to cough up the extra money.

Tensions boiled over ahead of a preseason game with Oakley peppering Hill with balls before squaring up to him and slapping him. Whilst that may have gone some way to venting Oakley’s frustrations it didn’t help his bank balance as he was later fined $10,000 by the NBA.

It’s also unclear as to whether or not Hill eventually agreed to pay the doubled debt of $108,000 or kept to the original figure of $54,000.


While these NBA players do have a penchant for gambling excessively, many other NBA stars continue to gamble safely without spending to excess or making the headlines.

But, other than banning gambling completely there is no sure-fire way to stop sportsmen from wagering such huge amounts of cash.