“I Can’t Pay My Rent”: Failing to Secure $2.1 Billion Worth Asset for 1 Reason, NBA Champ Digs 50YO Wound

Published 09/29/2023, 2:15 PM EDT

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In the current generation, all athletes are focused on building their brand outside the court. We can often see them starting their own stores, investing, and becoming entrepreneurs. But this way of thinking was not the norm back in the 1970s. In a recent interview with a Boston Celtics legend, a 74-year-old NBA champion and Olympic gold medalist revealed a regretful decision that dates back 50 years.

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Having lived through one of the hardest times in history, the Basketball Hall of Famer was given a life-altering chance in 1973.

How Magic Johnson’s former teammate missed out on $2.1 billion

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Kevin Garnett talked to Spencer Haywood recently. The 74-year-old briefly played with the Showtime Lakers in 1980, picking up his sole NBA championship. Notably, Haywood was offered a signature show by Nike a few years prior. However, in 1973 Nike did not have the money to pay Spencer or his agent. The shoe company told the NBA player that they could pay him in stocks.

However, as we all know, Nike boomed to $57 million in revenue by 1983, Haywood’s last year in the league.

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If he still had the stocks, they would currently be worth 2.1 billion dollars. No one knew how successful Nike would be in the future. Haywood was focused on his playing career and gave his power of attorney to his agent. Nike did pay Haywood in stock and then released his signature shoes.

Haywood himself was not high on his own shoes, as they would easily pop off when someone stepped on the rear top. So Haywood tells the story that one day his agent called him and said, “I can’t pay my rent. I got all these things. We need to cash this in.

He also let Haywood know that he would get a contract from Adidas next year and that his Nike shoe would never make it. This convinced Haywood to sell the stock.

 

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We all know how Nike changed the game and is now the leader in basketball shoes. Haywood considers this to be one of the biggest losses of his life.

Kevin Garnett made fun of Spencer Haywood

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Nike was a brand that focused more on track athletes and people who used to run. But Garnett said that people didn’t understand why anyone would not think that running is important in basketball as well.

The 2004 NBA MVP also mentioned that people were not savvy enough back in the day to understand the value of stocks. And this is true. Nike gave a similar deal to Magic Johnson, as they could not pay him with money.

Even Magic laughed at the idea of getting paid in stock, as he did not know how it worked back in the day. Well, it’s safe to say that Phil Knight could have made a lot of people rich, but they missed out on the opportunity.

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What do you think of these decisions? Do you think they made a mistake when they didn’t know how the company would turn out? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by:

Rijin Varghese

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Rijin is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He has been following the NBA for over a decade. He likes to learn about the nuances of sports, understand every player's contribution to a team, and also learn the logic behind player signings and team building.
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Edited by:

Aakash Nair

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