Top 5 NBA Stars Who Love to Gamble

It takes a specific type of person to become a professional athlete. One has to be persistent, capable of handling high levels of stress, quite a decision-maker, ready to bear with failure, and fierce when it comes to beating the competition to the ground. The same set of skills is often used to describe the most successful gamblers. It is not surprising that professional sports and gambling often go hand in hand!

No one knows it better than Anna Rosak. This renowned Polish gambling expert has dedicated her career to the gambling phenomenon and understands why professional athletes tend to gamble more than average Joe: “A colleague of mine described it as an intoxicating cocktail of invincibility, big ego and character flaws, and I couldn’t agree more.”

Our expert explains gambling among athletes is nothing unusual and happens all over the world, whether it be in land-based venues or on online sites like

Still, the NBA has some of the most hard-core gamblers. Why so, we wondered? “It might sound like prejudice, but many athletes, especially NBA players, see sports as a way out from poverty. After being empowered by money and fame, they lose focus and seek fulfillment in gaming,” she explains and adds how gambling should always be only about fun, and never about building self-esteem or making money. To help us understand why NBA players love gambling so much, she spilled some tea about famous NBA gamblers.

Michael Jordan

“Want to know what type of guy Jordan is? Watch The Last Dance documentary, as it explains a lot,” recommends Anna and continues, “This guy is the best basketball player in the world, but deep down inside he is a troubled soul”. The Netflix mega-hit explores, among other things, Jordan’s relation to gaming, and even mentions his father might have been killed because of Michael’s gambling debt.

30 years later, Jordan still neglects whether he has or ever had a gambling problem, because, according to his words, he never bets on the game, but on himself. Anna has heard this sentence so many times before, and isn’t impressed: “That is something a problem gambler would say. If a guy is willing to spend thousands and thousands of dollars in a single night and risk his career just to play at a casino – he needs help.”

Charles Barkley

Another member of the Dream Team, Charles Barkley, managed to accumulate $400,000 gambling debt and was even sued by the Wynn Las Vegas Casino. Just like his colleague Jordan, Barkley doesn’t see an issue in it and thinks gambling is a problem only when you can’t afford it. As one of the best players in history, he obviously has quite a considerable gambling budget.

“It should be noted both of these guys gambled the most when they were exposed to incredibly high levels of stress”, noted our expert, “Personally, I think there are better ways to blow some steam off.”

Antoine Walker

“Many say Antoine Walker was taught how to gamble by no other than Michael Jordan. Not sure if that is a bad thing or good thing”, laughs Anna. Former Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks, and Miami Heat superstar allegedly managed to get himself into quite a lot of trouble.

Despite earning more than $100 million in his career salary, at the moment he is worth only about 250k. One of the main reasons for his financial troubles is his gambling debts and loans he took at not one, not two, but ten casinos. He declared bankruptcy in 2007.

Primary rule that every game-lover should know of: gambling can be addictive. It can cause you not only money, but also family and reputation. Let Antoine’s case serve as a warning.

Charles Oakley

Former Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks player, Charles Oakley, is not only a gambler but also has quite a temper. “On one occasion, he threw basketballs at his colleague because he owed him money from a dice game. On another, he was kicked out of a casino for messing with chips on the table”, Anna reminded us.

One of the first rules of gaming is to always stay calm, patient, and if things aren’t going your way, to cool off a bit. It seems this NBA superstar never heard of that piece of advice. As we see, it eventually gave him an unwished-for type of reputation. You may want to stay alert when you see him in the landline casino.

J.R. Smith

Compared to other NBA players, the former LA Lakers star J.R. Smith is quite a timid one. No one was even aware of his passion for gambling until one day, he was a victim of a burglary, and among the stolen things was a briefcase with $15,000 cash. When police asked what’s up with all that money, he explained it was for gambling. And while there was no proof for his claims, the story remains a funny anecdote of what happens when you are a gambling aficionado that also has millions on his bank account. You carry the cash in the briefcase. Not suspicious at all… The fact remains, no matter if you’re a famous superstar or an ordinary citizen, if you have a gambling problem, sooner or later it will definitely come to light.