CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NBA is investigating check payments of $108,000 by the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan to a slain Gastonia, N.C., bondsman and another Gaston County man.
Bondsman Eddie Dow's attorney and brother said the checks covered Jordan's gambling debts.
"We're aware of these checks, and we are investigating them," said NBA spokesman Chartese Dean. She wouldn't comment further.
The checks paid off Jordan's gambling losses from golf, dice and poker games at Hilton Head Island, S.C., last summer and fall, said Stephen Gheen, Dow's attorney, and Dow's brother, Freddie "Flip" Dow. Some of the money also repaid loans made to Jordan so he could place bets, the two men said.
A spokesman for the Beaufort County (S.C.) Sheriff's Department said his office was "absolutely interested" in the checks. "I can't comment on whether or not we're investigating it now," said Sgt. P.J. Tanner.
Gambling is a misdemeanor in South Carolina, punishable by six months in prison and a $1,000 fine.
The checks raise questions about Jordan and gambling at Hilton Head Island, S.C., where he has a vacation house.
Jordan already has defended a $57,000 payment he made to a Union County businessman and convicted cocaine dealer, James "Slim" Bouler. Federal investigators said Bouler won the money during a gambling trip to Hilton Head in late September. Bouler is under indictment on unrelated money laundering charges.
Jordan and Bouler say the money was a loan.
The NBA doesn't specifically prohibit gambling, but the league's commissioner has broad authority over off-court behavior.
Copies of the checks surfaced this month, when Gaston County police recovered Dow's briefcase. Dow was fatally shot Feb. 19 at his Gaston County home and robbed of more than $20,000. Police have charged three former employees and a fourth man in connection with the murder and robbery.
Police said this week the checks aren't connected to Dow's murder.
John Diamond, a spokesman for the Bulls, said yesterday he asked Jordan about the checks. "Jordan just shook his head no. He had nothing to say," Diamond said.