Former NBA Player Larry Johnson: “I Didn’t Want to Be Grandmama”

I always wonder what the story was behind this.

For the “youngins” out there, Larry Johnson was a member of the big bad UNLV Running Rebels of the early 90’s.

He was the last player I thought I would see in a commercial with a Big Momma dress on.

But there he was and the commercials were very successful for Converse.

Johnson recently did an interview with Slam Magazine and gives the real reason on why he became Grandmama.

SLAM: Do more people remember you for that four-point play or being Grandmama?

LJ: There are women 40, 50 and 60 years old who don’t know anything about basketball, and I tell them I played Grandmama, and they go, “Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.” So I would say Grandmama.

SLAM: What do you remember from doing that commercial?

LJ: When I signed with Converse out of college, they told me we were going to do a commercial with me, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. They said they would have me on a gurney sleeping and covered up so you don’t see me. Larry Bird was on one side and Magic Johnson was on the other. They were doctors. They were creating the best basketball player. So then they say we have to name it. Larry Bird was going to say, “His name should be Larry,” and Magic was going to say, “His name should be Johnson.” Then they would go back and forth saying “Larry” and “Johnson.” Then I would raise up. So then I signed with them. Then they come back two months later after I spent the money and bought my mom a house, and they say, “We’ve got another idea. We want to put you in a dress.” That was Grandmama. [Laughs]

SLAM: So, what you’re saying is that wasn’t exactly by choice?

LJ: I spent the money so I had to do it, but if they came to be right out college and said, “We want you to do Grandmama,” I would have never done it. [Laughs]

The lesson to be learned here— don’t buy your mother a house until you know exactly what type of commercial your sneaker company is going to put you in. The Magic Johnson and Larry Bird commercial actually sounds pretty cool. No one knows if they just told Larry Johnson that to get him to sign the contract or they really did have plans to shoot that. Either way, Grandmama worked out well.

If you don’t mind being known more for looking like Madea than a basketball player, but I digress.

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