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“I bribed her. I gave her a million dollars” — Cookie Johnson's condition to allow Magic Johnson to return in 1995

The money was just a cherry on the top. Cookie gave Magic a clear ultimatum, or else she would've divorced him.
Los Angeles Dodgers partner Magic Johnson and wife Cookie Johnson

Cookie and Magic Johnson

Coming out of retirement wasn't an easy decision for Magic Johnson in 1995. There was no question that his passion for the game was enough to bring him back to the hardwood, but that summer, his decision significantly relied on his physical condition, mental health, and family.

Before Magic declared his return, he went back and forth about his decision for 4 years. When he finally realized it was time to give it another shot, he had to get his wife Cookie Johnson's approval before he informed Dr. Jerry Buss that he'd be wearing the purple and gold armor again.

According to a Los Angeles Times report published in 1992, Cookie approved Magic's return on one condition — that he would only play 1 season or she would divorce him. Magic abided by his wife's request and admitted that he had even to bribe her more than 1 million dollars to truly get her seal of approval.

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"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 said.

"It was a lot more than that," Cookie Johnson said in the same report.

True to his word, Johnson did only play 1 year after coming out of retirement. Although Magic was no longer at his peak, he still averaged 14.6 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 6.9 assists, which is pretty decent for a 36-year-old who didn't play for 4 years. The '95 Lakers only made it as far as the first round of the Playoffs as the Houston Rockets kicked them out early and sent Johnson back to retirement.

The summer before Magic took the court once again

In the first 4 months after declaring retirement, Johnson brutally missed the game and promised he'd do everything to come back. As soon as he found out his health wouldn't get any worse, he began plotting his comeback and worked hand-in-hand with his physician to plan the best time for his return.

However, Johnson's desire to return to the court changed months later in the same year as he ended up enjoying retirement and shifted his focus to purchasing a basketball team.

It was his participation in the 1992 Olympics that motivated Johnson to play in the NBA once again. His time with the Dream Team made him realize how much he missed the game and why he was working to come back from retirement in the first place. 2 years later, Johnson finally wore the purple and gold jersey again and had one last dance with the Lakers.

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