Basketball players are often portrayed as wealthy and extravagant due to their success and
public image. However, this is not always the case. Many NBA players enjoy visiting
physical or online casinos for leisure and the excitement of winning big.
While some might argue that high-profile athletes should be good role models and avoid activities like playing blackjack and roulette, it’s important to remember that they are human and like to have fun just like anyone else, so it’s no surprise that a few big names are into offshore casinos or in-person playing just like the rest of us.
Here is a list of NBA players who have been known to frequent casinos:
Michael Jordan is a worldwide sports icon and is considered by many the greatest basketball
player of all time. He played 15 seasons for the Chicago Bulls. Few people know that MJ has
a passion for casino games and has been known to bet with friends on golf championships at
sportsbooks. Although he lost $1.2 million in one game, it is a small amount compared to his
net worth of $1.6 billion.
Unlike other NBA players, Charles Oakley had people who owed him money from gambling
debts. For instance, Philadelphia Sixers player Tyrone Hill lost a game of craps to Oakley and
never paid him back. This resulted in Oakley confronting Hill by throwing basketballs at him
during a preseason game, which led to his suspension and a $10,000 fine for inappropriate
Antoine Walker has struggled with his poker and gambling addiction since 2009, which led
to $882,500 in gambling debts at various casinos. This addiction has caused Walker to face
criminal charges for filing bad checks.
Jordan had friends who were just as passionate about gambling as he was, one of whom was
Charles Barkley. Barkley was fascinated by the lights of Las Vegas and unfortunately lost
$10 million in a casino there. He has yet to pay the $400,000 debt to the Wynn Casino, which
has resulted in a lawsuit.
Stephen Curry is a star player for the Golden State Warriors and is known for his love of
gambling in casinos and the game of poker. In 2018, he admitted to playing poker with his
teammates during trips and even joked about a teammate’s poor skills. Phil Hellmuth, a poker
legend, also named Curry as one of the best poker players among basketball figures, citing
his performance in charity events hosted by the Warriors.
Champion in 2008 by the Boston Celtics, Paul Pierce is also a competitive poker player and has participated in various editions of the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas. He also played in the PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) in 2019, which was the largest live $25,000 buy-in tournament in history. According to Pierce, he enjoys playing poker and going to casinos as it offers a mental challenge and competitiveness, similar to what he experienced as a basketball athlete.
Klay Thompson, shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors, admitted to struggling with
the poker games and frequenting casinos when he played with his teammates during their
trips. He said the sharks on the team were tough competition, but that playing poker together
helped maintain team relationships.