Las Vegas is a bad place for Michael Jordan. His infamous gambling problems make him a sleaze-magnet every time he sets foot in the city. When he showed up to judge the NBA’s Dunk Contest Saturday night wearing a black leather suit, Jordan looked like a member of the Gambino crime family. His performance confirmed he checked whatever scruples he had left at the Vegas city limit.
Orlando’s Dwight Howard was perhaps the best showman in the dunk contest, yet Jordan never scored him better than an eight. His strong scoring for midget-like Nate Robinson—the defending champ whose lack of height prevented him from doing anything creative—powered the Knicks’ Robinson to the finals.
Jordan said he was just doing his best, but after Vegas insiders confirmed what many suspected during the contest, Jordan confessed: He was on the take.
After losing more than $500,000 in a backroom cock-fighting tournament Friday night, Jordan found himself in a compromising position. Knowing he had some pseudo-authority at the next night’s dunk contest, he did what any self-loathing, bored, retired NBA megastar would do. Jordan sold out to erase his gambling debts.
Vegas odds had Robinson as a long shot to make the contest’s finals, so his debtors said that if Jordan’s skewed voting helped Robinson make the finals, his $500,000 cock-fighting debts would become a thing of the past.
So Jordan did his thing. He remained defiant about his actions.
“I never should have lost any money at the cock-fighting tournament anyway,” said Jordan. “I put all my money on Sweet Baby Bill in the last fight of the night. If he wouldn’t have pulled his hamstring, I probably would have won half a million instead of losing it. That’s what we say about cock-fighting: Get ’em next time.”