How Larry Johnson became Grandmama

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It is one of the most famous shoe commercials ever.


But how did Converse ever convince Larry Johnson to put on a dress and a wig? He answered that very question for SLAM Magazine.

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?

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]

Classic story. Almost as classic as the commercial.

And man, Bird and Magic wore Converse (the Weapon series), you kind of forget that. Before Nike had Michael, Converse used to have everyone. Now Nike has Converse.

Coach Grandmama? Larry Johnson wants to be Chicago assistant.

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larry-johnson-grandmama.jpgLarry Johnson could ball. He was the best player in college while at UNLV, he was a two time All Star, he averaged 19 points and 11 boards a game as a rookie for the then Charlotte Hornets.

Yet, the first image of him is as a grandma in a dress.

Still he has some basketball knowledge and he wants to pass it along. He has emerged as one of the leading candidates for the Chicago Bulls coaching staff, according to the Daily Herald.

Johnson was a player for the Knicks when Tim Thibodeau was on Jeff Van Gundy’s staff there, so they have a relationship. However, he may have a hard time beating out former Suns head man Terry Porter for the job.

Thibodeau let Pete Meyers go recently and is looking for a former player to fill that spot on the bench.