How Larry Johnson’s ‘Grandmama’ Character Came To Be

by July 15, 2011

Ever wonder how the hell Larry Johnson somehow became the infamous Grandmama character? In this week’s print edition of Sporting News, LJ talks about how it all started—and it turns out the commercial was supposed to involve Magic Johnson and Larry Bird: “I thought I was going to be a Nike man. I sat around all summer waiting for Nike to call. When Nike finally called, they were straight up. They said they weren’t going to sign me. Nike flat-out told me they didn’t think I would have a good pro career because of my height (6-6) playing power forward. Then Converse called. They said, ‘We’ve got a great idea for a commercial. We’re going to put you in a gurney, cover you up. We’re going to have Magic Johnson and Larry Bird operating on you. They’ll say, ‘Oh, We did it. A perfect basketball player.’ Then they say, ‘We’ve got to name him.’ Larry says, ‘It’s got to be Larry.’ And Magic says, ‘It’s got to be Johnson.’ They go back and forth. ‘Larry.’ ‘Johnson.’ ‘Larry.’ ‘Johnson.’ Then I raise up off the gurney. I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m signing.’ … Six months later, they come back and say, ‘Are you ready to do the commercial?’ I say, ‘Yeah.’ They say, ‘We’re going to put you in a dress, put a wig on you.’ I’m like, ‘Yo, what happened to the gurney and those guys?’ They say, ‘No, no, we’re going to do this.’ I had already taken the million and bought my mom a house. So that’s how Grandmama came out.”