Antoine Walker Talks 36-Hour Spades Game with Michael Jordan Before 2001 Return

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 4, 2021

Miami Heat's Antoine Walker cheers on his team from the bench during the final minutes in Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference first-round playoff series Thursday, May 4, 2006, in Chicago. The Heat won the game 113-96 to win the series 4-2. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
JEFF ROBERSON/Associated Press

If you ever find yourself gambling with Michael Jordan, make sure to bring plenty of money, snacks and maybe a sleeping bag, too.

During an appearance on the All Things Covered podcast (via CBSSports.com's Chris Bengel), Walker recalled a game of spades he played with Jordan that lasted 36 hours:

"When Mike calls, the buy-in goes up a little higher. It's going to be a number that everybody has to bring to the table. I'd say $20,000 just to get in. If you don't have $20,000 to get in, you can't even play. Mike was competitive. I remember one time we played spades for 36 hours. We were playing against two other guys and Mike and I were partners. They had us behind $900,000."

The former Boston Celtics star went on to say the game occurred around the time Jordan was going to announce his return to the NBA with the Washington Wizards ahead of the 2001-02 season. Walker said MJ delayed his official comeback press conference in order to finish the game.

Jordan's gambling habits were well-documented when he was at his peak, and the conspiracy theory that his break from the NBA was tied to some sort of gambling-related punishment will probably never go away.

The Hall of Famer's competitive streak was also a running theme throughout The Last Dance docuseries. Just ask LaBradford Smith how Jordan could take an otherwise innocuous moment and turn it into a source of motivation.

Because of that, the 58-year-old is either the best or worst gambling partner.