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?A high level of energy. Friends say Jordan rarely sleeps. If he stops at 18 holes in a day, a typhoon must be coming.
"This guy is a killer," the source said. "He's the most viciously competitive player I've ever seen. That's what makes him, I think, the greatest player ever. He has practically ruined [reserve forward] Rodney McCray for us." When the two players are on opposite teams in scrimmages, the source says, "[ Jordan] is in Rodney's face, screaming, 'You're a loser! You've always been a loser!' Rodney can hardly put up a jumper now."
After practice, Jordan wants to shoot baskets for money. And it doesn't matter whether he's betting $5 a shot or $100, he wants his money right now. He wants to beat you in everything. "He passes people going home some nights—on the shoulder—doing 125," the source said. "He doesn't care. He lets the highway patrol chase him a little. You think they're going to give him a ticket? They'll ask for his autograph, but they won't give him a ticket. Guy scares me to death."
Competitive? One day in Monte Carlo last summer, where the Dream Team trained before the Barcelona Olympics, coach Chuck Daly beat Jordan by one shot on the golf course. "That's it," Daly said, meaning that he was quitting while he was ahead. "I'll never play Michael again." The next morning, at the crack of dawn, Jordan rang Daly's room. Getting no response, he went directly to Daly's room and knocked. Then he pounded. He wouldn't go away until he got his rematch. He got it, and he won by a shot. But would you expect anything else? Whatever searing obsession is inside Jordan, driving him to be the most dauntless basketball player on earth, does not suddenly leak out of his Nikes when he leaves the court.
"Sitting down with shady characters; needing to get to the casino in the middle of something that is very important in his life," says Wexler. "That tells me there's a very big thirst there to gamble."
"I hope I'm wrong," says Freiburger. "But we could be looking at the next Pete Rose."
Still, let's do what Stern and Rashad and Jordan all want us to do—forget about it. Subject closed and swept under the rug. None of our business anyway. Besides, Jordan is this nation's most cherished athlete. What could happen to him?