Once upon a time, Jamal Crawford owed so much after playing craps that a gambler threatened to kill him, according to a profile for The Undefeated. And, of course, when you bring up the NBA back in the day, and gambling in the same sentence, you know who isn't too far behind, right? Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
During the summer of 2001, as Jordan mulled over the idea of returning to the league, and possibly playing for the Bulls, he asked Crawford to be his teammate for pickup games at the Hoops the Gym in Chicago. Obviously, Jamal accepted the invitation, and the two never lost. Where things got interesting was after the pickup games came to an end.
Typically, a group of Jordan's "friends and associates," would go next door to MJ's restaurant, One Sixtyblue, after pickup games. There, the establishment was set up with card tables throughout the room, and a corner meant for shooting dice. In between his first and second year in the league, Crawford went to One Sixtyblue, and played craps.
On this night, Crawford had $2,000 in cash on him. After a while, he was holding upwards of $10,000 before he lost it all...and then some. It got to the point where Jamal was betting money he didn't have with a group of professional gamblers, who didn't like to hear the phrase "I'll pay you later."
“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.”
In a matter of two days playing craps, Crawford allegedly lost somewhere in the range of $100,000. A couple days later, his agent at the time, Aaron Goodwin, received a phone call from someone looking to settle his debt with one of the gamblers.
“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.”
Goodwin was able to work out a payment plan with the gambler before Crawford was harmed. The 36-year-old guard says he never heard that his life was being threatened, but admits that he gave his 2001 Mercedes-Benz S Class 430 in order to settle his debt from the second night of gambling.
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