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How Larry Johnson became Grandmama

Oct 15, 2010, 10:00 PM EST

grandmama_face

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.

  1. silk32 - Oct 16, 2010 at 6:02 AM

    The Shock Exchange recently caught up with Larry Johnson at a Fila/Packer Shoes co-sponsored event in Teaneck, NJ. Hundreds of fans turned out in the rain to see L.J., catch up on old times and find out what he’s doing now. L.J. was apprecative that his impact on the game, and fans, still lasts. We spoke for about 15 minutes. http://clicky.me/2WHg

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