4 of the NBA’s Biggest Gamblers Ever

4 of the NBA’s Biggest Gamblers Ever


It’s probably no surprise that NBA players like to gamble. Long hours on planes and occasional stops into casinos on the road have always made gambling a popular past time for NBA stars with time to kill and money to burn.

Sometimes though, this hobby gets out of hand and costs a player more than just a day or two’s pay.

Michael Jordan

Stories about MJ’s gambling habits have trickled out over the years, including the time he was spotted gambling at an Atlantic City hotel the night before a 1993 playoff game.

Other anecdotes include author and fellow high roller Richard Esquinas claiming he took His Airness for $1.25 million on the golf course. Some even think that Michael Jordan’s temporary retirement from the NBA (to play baseball) was actually a secret suspension from the NBA for violating league gambling rules.

Gilbert Arenas

Arenas has the honor of being the most intense gambler on our list. “I was competitive,” the three-time All Star said. “That was my nature. I will bet you on anything. All right, who’s gonna make the most half-court shots? A hundred grand, five shots.”

That intensity was particularly on display Christmas Eve 2009. After Arenas lost about $1,100 playing the Cajun card game bourré, days later he brought four unloaded guns into the team locker room and dared teammate Jarvis Crittenton to shoot him as a bluff-calling metaphor.

Arenas was suspended for the rest of the season and given two years probation on charges of carrying a pistol without a license.

Antoine Walker

Antoine Walker raked in $108 million playing in the NBA between 1996 and 2009. But a year after playing his last game in the NBA, the three-time All Star Antoine Walker was arrested for writing bad checks to three Vegas casinos for $800,000.

It’s unclear how much Walker lost gambling, but it no doubt contributed to him filing for bankruptcy in 2010. “I thought I was set for the rest of my life,” he says.

Charles Barkley

Sir Charles estimated in 2007 that he had lost over $10 million gambling over his lifetime, once saying sayonara to $2.5 million during a six-hour sit at the blackjack table.

Although he’s insisted in the past that his hobby isn’t an addiction, more recently the Hall of Famer and TNT broadcaster swore off gambling:

After failing to pay up on a $400,000 debt owed to the Wynn Las Vegas in 2008, Barkley apologized publically for not paying on time, saying “I’ve got to stop gambling…I am not going to gamble anymore. For right now, the next year or two, I’m not going to gamble… Just because I can afford to lose money doesn’t mean I should do it.”