Antoine Walker tells story of how he and Michael Jordan were down $900,000 in 36-hour game of spades and nearly won it back


(RADIO.COM Sports) There are a number of acceptable excuses for a celebrity to miss a big press conference -- a personal matter with family, an illness or injury, some sort of massive traffic build-up or travel delay.

Does being down $900,000 in a game of spades that lasted for a day-and-a-half qualify?

Because according to former NBA star Antoine Walker, a Chicago native who helped play a part in the legendary Michael Jordan's comeback to the NBA for the 2001-'02 season, that's exactly what forced Jordan to postpone a press conference. And not just any press conference -- it was the press conference to announce his comeback plans.

Walker joined Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden on "All Things Covered" on CBS Sports to share a classic Jordan story involving his competitiveness, their friendship and just a little bit of gambling.

"When Mike calls, the buy-in goes a little higher. Let me just start with that," Walker explained. "So it's gonna be a number put on that everybody got to bring to the table. I'd say probably $20,000. Gotta have 20 ... just to get in. You ain't got 20 to get in, you can't even play, so that starts that.

"And then Mike is competitive, man. I remember one time we played spades for 36 hours. We were playing against two other guys. Me and Mike were partners and ... they had us stuck, behind 900,000.

"What made it even more interesting, it was the day he actually was supposed to make his announcement he was officially coming back. He canceled the press conference, everything. We played for 36 hours, man."

They also weren't playing with markers of some sort — they were using cold, hard cash.

"This is what happened: I was leaving for Boston in a couple days, so I had about $100,000," Walker said. "I was always a cash person, I had my money. MJ had about $200 (thousand) on him. MJ sent for half a million, cash. Sent for it. And then the other guys we played against had money too. So they had us down $900,000.

"We got all the money except $20,000. Mike did not want to see them with 20, so they ended up winning 180. He got too tired, we couldn't go no more. He was falling asleep at the table ... Every gambling session didn't go 36 hours, but we had some competitive gambling sessions."

If you somehow missed out on "The Last Dance" and you weren't quite sure how deep Jordan's competitive side went, this serves as another pretty good off-the-court example. Battling back from down $900,000 would've been insanely impressive, and you'd have to wonder where such a feat would have ranked on Jordan's list of all-time greatest comebacks should it have come to fruition.

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