Michael Jordan had a notorious gambling addiction during his peak playing days, which he showed during a playoff series in 1993.
Jordan and his Bulls had lost Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Finals series against the Knicks. He hadn’t played all that well in this game, and he felt he needed some time to cool off. This is how he described his trip to Atlantic City:
“I wanted to get away from the city of New York and relax, instead of sitting there and listening to the media hype up about the first game–my mistakes, Scottie Pippen didn’t play well, Michael Jordan didn’t play well.”
“I’m just trying to get away from it, instead of staying in my room, which is four walls, already. I chose to take a ride, in a limo, didn’t drive, rested, sitting there talking about all the different conversations that my father and my friends could talk about.”
“Got up there, got to a private gambling area, come home at a respectable hour so I can get eight hours, got ready for the next game. And that’s the truth.”
How did Michael Jordan fare in the 1993 NBA playoffs?
From a scoring perspective, Jordan had his heaviest barrage in this playoff run. He averaged 41 points per game in the Finals – a record at that stage. He also averaged 35.1 points per game through the entire run.
He was also instrumental in turning the Knicks series around. MJ went after John Starks and his other defenders with reckless abandon for the rest of the Conference Finals. The Bulls won 4 straight games on the bounce after losing their first two.
NBA in the 90s was wild. Bulls were fined $25,000 during the 1993 ECF for boycotting the media in solidarity w/ Michael Jordan after a report he was up until 2:30am gambling in Atlantic City. Jordan said he only played blackjack from 4-11 & asleep by 1am. An AP story from May 28: pic.twitter.com/hJxBLWmerv
— Mike Vorkunov (@MikeVorkunov) April 21, 2020
The intense scrutiny that surrounded his life played a big part in Jordan announcing his retirement in 1993. Burnout issues are real and MJ bore the brunt of it over 3 summers.