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Magic Johnson Walked Away from Billions by Choosing Converse over Nike

One of the most famous basketball players Magic Johnson made a bad choice that haunts him to this day


In the world of professional sport, we can often see sport manufacturers battling to achieve deals with athlethes that are ideal for their brands. Surely, the biggest deals are the one worth buzzing about. Everyone is curious to know how much money will the collaboration bring, what kind of sportswear will the athlethe wear and more. One of the most interesting stories in the early 80s was the choice of basketball player Earvin Magic Johnson. The situation that occured was best described by the sixth episode of the HBO series ‘Winning Time’ that captured the professional and personal life of the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers, one of the best and most respected sports dynasties, a team that marked its time both on and off the field. During Los Angeles Lakers key season, Magic was surrounded by sports equipment manufacturers. Especially sneakers manufacturers. Among those who approached him were Converse and Nike. Converse offered money – $100,000. Nike had a more interesting offer. Founder Phil Knight offered him one dollar per sold sneaker as well as shares of the then young company. Magic chose Converse. What the series emphasizes is that Nike shares were worth $0.18 then, today they are worth about $134. Now, the property of the famous basketball player would be worth $5.2 billion. Johnson often stated that he made a huge mistake by choosing Converse, that he was young and had no idea what shares are. Johnson left the contract with Converse only 12 years later, explaining that he was never happy with that contract and that company.


Both companies are well known for their innovative basketball shoe design and the variety of choices when it comes to the styles. DSCENE team prepared a brief history of these brand’s basketball designs and where can you find the best pieces:  

©Flight Club

The company that produced the first All Star sneaker in 1917 was called the Converse Rubber Shoe Company. Before the first sneakers, the same company produced men’s rubber shoes. As you know, the shoes have the signature of a certain Chuck Taylor. He was a basketball player, but not popular and world-renowned, but a basketball lover, and at the same time a seller, a traveling salesman, of these sneakers. He managed to sell them to a number of basketball high schools and student teams. The company rewarded him by putting his signature on the sneaker. That happened in 1923, and his signature is still here today. The high top sneakers ruled the scene untill 1957 when low top sneakers made their debut. The basketball shoes gained popularity quickly when two basketball stars Magic Johnson and Larry Bird debuted Converse Weapon on court. It didn’t take long before most of the players wore the All Stars on and off the court. The Weapon was a bulky high-top leather sneaker that represented Converse’s latest evolution in the basketball sneaker space. The style was later worn by the greats like Isaiah Thomas, Kevin McHale, Mark Aguirre, and Bernard King. Whether you’re looking for a basketball shoe or a lifestyle piece, Converse is always a good pick. Find a wide selection of Converse sneakers here.


After years of Converse domination on the basketball court, Nike stepped up in 1984 and unveiled the Air Jordan 1 basketball shoe. The shoe was designed by Peter Moore for a young Michael Jordan. The iconic silhouette became so famous that everyone wanted a pair of their own Jordans. Off the basketball court, this iconic silhouette found it’s place in every style movement, making it more than just a basketball shoe. Besides Jordans, Nike releases multiple basketaball shoes made in collaboration with famous players like LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kobe Bryant and more. Shop Nike sneakers at GOAT.

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