One of the more controversial subplots to Michael Jordan’s legendary career has been his gambling habit, an interest that may have developed into full-blown addiction in the early 1990s.
Jordan’s obsession received intense scrutiny during the 1993 Eastern Conference Finals when some blamed his subpar performance in Game 2 (shooting 12-for-32, though he scored 36 points) on a late-night trip to an Atlantic City casino. Was Jordan’s obsession a manifestation of the competitiveness that made him an all-time athletic great? Or did he truly have a gambling problem?
The inquiries were so pervasive, becoming so overwhelming during the drive for a third consecutive NBA championship, that Jordan refused to speak with the media for two weeks. But he finally broke his silence before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, calling on NBC reporter Ahmad Rashad for an interview that Jordan hoped would definitively settle the issue.
Yet Jordan’s defensiveness throughout the conversation and his insistence on wearing sunglasses during the interview still raised suspicion, creating the impression that the superstar had something to hide.
With the gambling storyline a key plot to the sixth episode of ESPN’s The Last Dance and Jordan’s interview receiving new attention, Rashad spoke to the Los Angeles Times‘ Greg Braxton about the circumstances leading up to the televised conversation with Jordan.
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