Originally published May 28, 1993.
Michael Jordan attempted to clarify the facts about his Monday night trip to Atlantic City, but wound up angrily cutting short an interview session following the Bulls’ practice on Thursday.
Jordan took umbrage with a reporter’s line of questioning which attempted to characterize the trip as part of a gambling problem.
“That’s stupid,” Jordan yelled over his shoulder as he walked away from a horde of media, who had come looking for a response to a New York Times story about a late-night gambling spree.
Jordan insists he left Atlantic City around 11 p.m. Monday and was in bed by 1 a.m. He said he got a full eight hours of sleep before going to the Bulls’ day-of-game shootaround on Tuesday.
Jordan scored a game-high 36 points and grabbed a team-high nine rebounds, but the Bulls lost to the Knicks 96-91 to fall behind 2-0 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.
Jordan said he made the 141-mile trip to Atlantic City on Monday in a limousine with family and friends, including his father, James Jordan. Jordan said he was looking to relax and get his mind off basketball.
“Whoever says they saw me there at 1 a.m. or 2:30 in the morning, or whatever, I’d like to see them in person because I certainly will lay a lawsuit on them,” Jordan said.
“Where are they? Let me see one of them. One of them. Let me see one person say I was there at 2 o’clock and you have a lawsuit on your hands. You can even ask the casinos.”
Lee Hillman, executive vice president of Bally Manufacturing Corp., told the Associated Press Jordan was at the Bally’s Grand Casino Monday, but wouldn’t provide details. A spokesman contacted by the Sun-Times said it was against casino policy to comment on guests.
Wednesday’s New York Times quoted two sources they identified as “courtside regulars” at Madison Square Garden who said they had seen Jordan in the casino at 2:30 a.m. The newspaper also reported Jordan checked into a hotel room at 5:07 p.m. and checked out at 11:04. The story claimed he lost $5,000.
Jordan denies having a room at the hotel and said he lost less than $3,000.
“They’re fabricating some things that certainly aren’t true,” said Jordan, who also denied a televised report he was out late Saturday, saying he was in bed by 10:30 p.m. Game 1 was at 3:30 p.m. EDT Sunday.
“I’m here, I’m telling you where I was and that’s it. That’s the truth.
“I’ve always taken pride in laying my basketball skills on the line for this team, getting my rest so I can go out and play the game of basketball. That’s what I’m going to do.
“It really hurt me that it was taken out of context when I’m just trying to do what I have to do to go out there and do what’s best for this team.”
Jordan is a prisoner of his celebrity status and often stays in his room on road trips to avoid the mass of people his public appearances attract. He said he made the trip to Atlantic City because he wanted to get out of New York and away from the “hype” surrounding the playoffs. Jordan normally finds solace on the golf course, but he said he did not bring his clubs with him to New York.
There seem to be two reasons for the abundance of interest in Jordan’s travels. The first is because it happened the night before a playoff game; the second is because of Jordan’s penchant for games of chance.
Jordan testified in the federal drug and money laundering trial of James “Slim” Bouler last fall that he lost $57,000 golfing and playing cards with Bouler during a weekend at Hilton Head Island, S.C. Jordan was also known to be a regular at the card tables of Monte Carlo during the Dream Team’s stay last summer.
Bulls coach Phil Jackson said the team has no curfew policy and he is satisfied Jordan received ample rest before Game 2. He said he was not surprised by Jordan’s trip.
“What’s wrong with that?” Jackson said. “That’s better than going out in Manhattan on Monday night to me. Hey, I have no problem with that at all.”
Jordan said he was eager to talk to the media and clarify exactly what his movements were on the night in question.
“It’s aggravating,” Jordan said. “It’s attacking my private life. I felt the need to come out and tell the truth so you guys can quit hallucinating.”