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JORDAN ON GAMBLING: `I AM NO PETE ROSE'

Michael Jordan says he never bet on any NBA games or any other sports events.

"I am no Pete Rose," Jordan said Friday in response to questions about gambling debts he was said to have paid off. "I can safely say this is not a Pete Rose matter."Rose was banned from baseball for betting on baseball games.

"I wasn't involved in any point-shaving or betting on basketball games," Jordan said. "I'm declaring that before anyone else asks."

Jordan is not going to let an inquiry into his gambling affect his play, and his boss says he has a lot of confidence in the Chicago Bulls star.

"If, in fact, Michael lost some money in a golf game or a card game, I don't think it's something to get excited about," Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf said on the WLUP-AM "Coppock on Sports" program Friday.

"I have a lot of confidence in Michael. Michael is a man of excellent judgment, and I assume he's done nothing he has to be ashamed of."

The NBA is looking into circumstances surrounding checks Jordan wrote to a North Carolina bondsman shot to death last month. The checks reportedly were to pay off bets Jordan lost to several men.

The Bulls, seeking to repeat as NBA champions, have the league's best record, and Jordan said the news reports from North Carolina won't change that.

"My basketball is my basketball," he said Friday. "Whatever happens, it is not going to affect the way I play.

"I can't fault anyone else for my mistakes. I have to just accept it and move on."

Two checks signed by Jordan and a copy of cashier's checks totaling $108,000 were found by lawyers and police in the estate of bondsman Eddie Dow. Dow's lawyer and his brother said the checks were to pay gambling debts incurred by Jordan, The Gaston Gazette in Gastonia, N.C., reported.

Dow was shot to death Feb. 19 outside his Gaston County home. Three of his former employees and another man have been arrested in the slaying. Police said this week the checks weren't connected to Dow's murder.

Flip Dow, a former police officer who is administering his brother's estate, said his brother and Jordan met through a mutual friend.

Gambling doesn't violate NBA rules unless wagers are placed on NBA games. However, it is a misdemeanor in South Carolina, where the bets were allegedly made, and is punishable by six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.

"We have a good-conduct rule that says a player must be of good moral character to ensure the integrity of the league," NBA media spokeswoman Chartese Dean said.

Last year, federal agents seized a $57,000 check Jordan wrote to James "Slim" Bouler on Oct. 22, 1991. In an affidavit, the IRS said Bouler was "a suspected cocaine carrier for various drug organizations in the Charlotte and Monroe area."

Bouler said Jordan loaned him the money to help purchase land for a golf driving range. The check later was returned to Bouler by a federal judge, who said the IRS had no grounds to seize it.