Magic Johnson Discusses Missed Opportunity with Nike on ‘All the Smoke’

Basketball legend Magic Johnson missed out on a massive money-making opportunity in his early days.

According to Sports Illustrated, he turned down a deal from Nike in 1979 that would’ve been valued today at around $5.2 billion.

Johnson visited the All The Smoke podcast, hosted by fellow former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, where he discussed the first mistake he made before even stepping on the basketball court. 

 “So, here I am, just winning the National Championship against Larry Bird, and three companies came in: Converse, Adidas, and Nike,” said Johnson. “Nike was just a year or two old. Converse offered me the most money.”

Johnson explained his decision to sign with Converse, who offered more money upfront, instead of Nike, who offered him stocks. “So you know when you grow up broke, take the money. Phil Knight came in and said, ‘Hey, I can’t offer you the same type of money. But I can offer you stock’.

 “My family didn’t come from money,” said Johnson, who grew up in Lansing, MI. “That hurts us sometimes when you don’t come from money. I didn’t even know what stocks was at that time. So, I passed on the stocks. Can you imagine? Forty-five years and $5 billion of stock.”

Barnes and Johnson made it a point to tell Johnson how well he had already done for himself. They spotlighted his Converse Weapon sneakers that he wore on the court and even all of his ad campaigns with Bird.

It worked out OK. Following his retirement from the NBA, Johnson became a billionaire on his own with his own business and sports-related endeavors.