Jamal Crawford once had his life threatened over dice game at Michael Jordan’s restaurant
A young Jamal Crawford once learned the hard way that gambling with NBA superstars can cost you a lot of money. And in some cases, it can even lead to terrifying threats.
Mike Wise of The Undefeated recently published a fantastic feature on Crawford. In it, he shares a story from when Crawford was a rookie and he shot dice with Ray Allen and other players at Michael Jordan’s restaurant. Jordan, Antoine Walker and others were playing cards at the time. The long story short — and we recommend reading the entire thing — is that Crawford got in over his head.
Crawford claims he won upwards of “thousands” shooting dice as a teenager. He often skipped school to gamble, so he knew his way around the game quite well. However, luck wasn’t on his side on this particular night.
He brought about $2,000 in cash that night and remembers being one of the first shooters. There were maybe a half-dozen players, most of whom were professional gamblers. Crawford was up and down for a while, once holding about $10,000 in cash, more than he had ever won before.
Then he went down. Way down. Into a hole there was no coming back from. He began making bets with money he didn’t have on hand with a group of professional gamblers used to getting paid on the spot.
“They would be like, ‘OK, you bet two grand on this one, OK lost,” Crawford recalled, agreeing to discuss his own role that night but refusing to confirm the identity of anyone else involved. “Then they’d say, ‘Now we will bet three on this one [roll]. Oops, lost. Now you down 15 [grand].” So it wasn’t like cash was coming out, it was like air money. But it was money I was going to have to pay somehow eventually.”
The details get a bit muddled from there. A person with “intimate knowledge” of the game tells Wise that Crawford lost “several hundred thousand” in a two-day span. Being that he was in year one of a rookie contract that paid him $8 million over three years, Crawford did not have that kind of cash readily available until the season started. After Crawford went a few days without paying, a call was placed to his agent Aaron Goodwin.
“OK,” Goodwin said, according to the person with intimate knowledge of the game. “What does he owe? Jamal is good for it.”
“No, you don’t understand,” the go-between said. “If he doesn’t pay now, these guys will kill Jamal.”
“Kill Jamal?!! He’s an NBA player. He gets paid as soon as the season starts. Give me the dude’s number.”
The person with knowledge of the game said Goodwin called the man Crawford owed money, set up a payment plan and resolved the issue without incident.
Crawford insists he didn’t lose as much money as Wise was told, but it was enough that he has not shot dice since. The moral of the story is never gamble near Michael Jordan or any of his friends, especially when you’re a rookie. I’m sure that has ended poorly for many, many people.
H/T The Big Lead