Magic Johnson Revealed He Gave His Wife Cookie $1 Million To Let Him Come Out Of Retirement: "I Bribed Her. I Gave Her A Million Dollars."

Magic Johnson Revealed He Gave His Wife Cookie $1 Million To Let Him Come Out Of Retirement:

Credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Magic Johnson is one of the most loved players in the history of basketball. But his highly decorated career was far from straightforward, especially towards the end of it. Johnson discovered in a physical before the 1991-92 season that he had contracted HIV. The ensuing announcement and the aftermath that followed saw Magic retire immediately from playing basketball. It was a huge thing for him to deal with at the time and became a moment in history in the United States Of America. 

But Johnson was the ultimate competitor, someone who loved basketball as much as anything else. So when it didn't look like he was going to be devastated by the disease, the thought of returning to the court was something that he entertained. And Magic returned to the Lakers as a coach in the 90s, although he had a torrid time and ended his very short stint with a 5-11 record. 

But coaching was never Magic's dream, and he eventually decided to play again for the Lakers, rejoining the team during the 1995-96 season. But before he did so, he had to get permission from his wife, Cookie. And as he revealed to the Los Angeles Times back then, Cookie had some conditions before she would allow him to return.

"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's return went decently. he averaged a healthy 14.6 points and nearly 7 assists per game, but it wasn't enough. He eventually decided to go out on his terms, probably helped along by takes from peers like Michael Jordan.


Michael Jordan Told Magic Johnson That He Should Consider Retiring When Magic Was Making His Comeback

MJ was never one to sugarcoat something, and he had some very real advice for Magic when he returned to play in the 1995-96 season. 

"Michael, after that game, he pulled me aside. I don’t think I've ever told anybody this. He met me in between the locker rooms, and he said, 'Earvin, you have to remember now, you're not with Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar); you're not with James Worthy. All the guys you used to play with, Showtime, are not on that Laker team anymore. So remember, maybe you should think about retiring.'"

Players like Magic Johnson come along only once in a generation. But even the best have to know when to call it quits, and it seems like Magic did that on his terms eventually. The desire to play and compete is understandable, but when one has to bribe their wife to do it, it's perhaps an indicator of not being the best idea.