Magic Johnson’s NBA Return Only Happened After A Deal With His Wife — 'I Bribed Her. I Gave Her A Million Dollars'
Photo Credit: David Livingston

Magic Johnson’s NBA Return Only Happened After A Deal With His Wife — 'I Bribed Her. I Gave Her A Million Dollars'

Reliving the glory years is a real thing. From the hype of the crowd to the adrenaline felt by the sheer sport of the activity, only a few things compare to that rush. Across all sports genres, the world has witnessed players who have considered retirement but then decided to play one or a few more times before hanging the jersey up for good.

Michael Jordan left basketball in 1993 just to return in 1995, and Tom Brady created an entire rollout about his retirement only to renege months later and return to the NFL. Magic Johnson is in that number but recently revealed there was a $1 million price tag associated with his return to basketball.

Magic Johnson’s well-accomplished career began with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980. He would play consecutive seasons until he announced having contracted HIV right before the 1991-1992 season. Because of his diagnosis, Johnson retired immediately, seemingly ending his basketball journey.

And while his on-court play had ended, his love for the game would materialize in another way.

Magic Johnson served as the head coach of his former team toward the end of the 1993-1994 season. Johnson led the team to a 110-101 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in his first game. However, that celebration would be short-lived. According to Bleacher Report, his brief coaching stint would end with a 5-10 losing record, resulting in the Lakers missing the playoffs for the first time since 1976.

Although he took the job as the coach, Johnson always preferred to be back on the court. Based on a report from Yardbreaker, Johnson rejoined the Lakers as a star player, but not before he got the consent of his wife, Cookie Johnson.

In a conversation with The LA Times, Johnson explained the conditions Cookie Johnson gave him if he were to step back on the basketball hardwood.

“My wife told me, ‘That’s it, one (season) and get out.’ Or she’ll leave me. Cookie always told me I was coming back: ‘No way you’re working out three times a day, and you’re not coming back, you can’t tell me.’ I said you haven’t given me your OK yet. So, I bribed her. I gave her a million dollars,” Johnson said of the situation.

Johnson returned to the Lakers one last time for the 1995-1996 NBA season. That year, he averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6.9 assists.