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NBA legend Magic Johnson's biggest investing regret

Brian Sozzi

NBA great Magic Johnson isn’t one to look backwards in life. But even the five-time NBA champion kicks himself for not pulling the trigger on some free Nike (NKE) stock.

“I was 19 years old, just won that national championship after beating Larry Bird and I was about to sign a shoe deal. Converse came in and everyone at that time was wearing Converse because of Dr. J. So Converse came in and offered me some money. And then this guy named Phil Knight came in, and Nike was only like one or two years old. He said he doesn’t have a lot of money but will offer me stock. I was 19, didn’t know a lot. And, so the rest is history,” Johnson recalled in an interview with Yahoo Finance.

Johnson ultimately said no thanks to Knight and Nike in 1979 and signed with Converse.

Nike went public on December 2, 1980.

Today, Nike is the global leader in sportswear in terms of sales and profits. The company has a $145 billion market cap, according to Yahoo Finance data — fueled by a stock that has pretty much gone up in a straight line since IPO day. In 2003, Nike spent $305 million to buy Converse.

Magic Johnson speaks onstage during The Genius of Magic Johnson Sponsored by Denny’s at The Genius Talks Sponsored By Credit Karma during the BET Experience at the Los Angeles Convention Center on June 22, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for BET)

Johnson turned out just fine even without Nike stock in his portfolio.

The Los Angeles Lakers legend and Hall of Famer has enjoyed a second act as a highly regarded entrepreneur. Johnson is the founder and CEO of Magic Johnson Enterprises (MJE). With an estimated valuation of $1 billion, MJE has invested in restaurants, entertainment venues and infrastructure projects. Johnson is also a part owner, through MJE, of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Johnson’s net worth is estimated to be around $600 million.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and co-anchor of The First Trade at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @BrianSozzi

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