Episode 6 of Winning Time focuses on Magic Johnson’s potential shoe deals with Nike and Converse – the player ultimately chose Converse, a decision he says he regrets to this day.
We’re over halfway through Winning Time: The Rise Of The Lakers Dynasty as the series continues with Episode 6, titled Memento Mori.
Fans of Magic Johnson – real name Earvin Johnson Jr – will know that the former NBA star has become a hugely successful businessman through shrewd investments and his company Magic Johnson Enterprises, which owns holdings of worth $1 billion, according to its website.
However, Episode 6 proves the 62-year-old hasn’t always taken big calls well – he’s still poking fun at a particular decision he made back in the 1980s.
Magic Johnson’s Shoe Decision
The athlete was selected first overall in the 1979 NBA draft by the LA Lakers and won the NBA Finals in 1980, making him the only rookie to win the NBA Finals MVP award.
With such a huge career opening up before him, sponsorship deals had to come to fruition. Sportswear manufacturers Puma, Converse, and Adidas all wanted Magic on board, as did a burgeoning shoe company called Nike.
At the time, Nike was focused on athletics and already had a number of famous marathon runners on their books. But, such is the popularity of basketball, none were as important as Magic Johnson, rookie or not.
Since it was a smaller company than Converse and Puma at the time, Winning Time claims that Nike founder Phil Knight could only offer Magic $1 for every pair of shoes sold and 100,000 shares. in stock options starting at $0.18.
Unfamiliar with stocks, the 19-year-old opted for Converse, which offered him $100,000 a year. NBA legend Dr. J signed with Converse in 1975, another incentive for the young star.
Almost 40 years later, Magic still regrets turning down Nike shoe deal
Johnson has spoken about the deal several times over the years, telling Ellen DeGeneres in 2017 that he got angry every time he walked into a Nike store.
He admitted: “I didn’t know anything about stocks back then – damn it, did I make a mistake. I still kick myself. I could make money off everyone buying Nikes right now!
The exact amount of stock offered to Johnson has not been confirmed, but Winning Time estimates that 100,000 stock options would have earned Magic $5.2 billion – it could have been the name on the Jordan sneakers so coveted.
Johnson’s 12-year contract with Converse earned him about $2 million a year, reports the LA Times.
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