Skip to main content

Spencer Haywood: Story about the missed opportunity that comes once in a lifetime

It was in late 2015 when LeBron James inked a deal with Nike that is valued at more than $500 million. This is by any standards a whole lot of money LeBron will make aside to what he made when playing for the Cavs and now the Lakers.

But even that deal is nothing compared to an offer basketball Hall of Famer Spencer Haywood passed up from Nike during his 14-year-long career.

Detroit native Haywood entered early in the NBA and once even sued the NBA in order to have permission to make the NBA debut with the Seattle SuperSonics at the age of 21. Early in his career, he was approached by Nike with an exciting offer: He would either get $100,000 or 10 percent of the company in exchange for promoting the company's apparel, in this case, it was their shoes.

If you're looking from a perspective of someone in 2018, this decision would be a no-brainer. However, at that time, Nike was a relatively unknown brand and was working under the name of Blue Ribbon Sports. Afterward, they changed their name to Nike Inc. in 1971. Haywood took advice from people close to him and choose to take the cash instead.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Haywood would nevertheless have a successful career becoming a gold medalist in the 1968 Olympics, and was considered as one of the best forward in league's history and even won a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers back in 1980. However, when you look at the deal with Nike, his 10 percent in the company would now be worth close to $9 billion.

It's safe to say Haywood missed a chance of a lifetime to be completely set for the rest of his life outside of his success on the basketball court.


Bill Russell once explained how he would defend Shaq: "He has to carry that weight up and down!"

A duel between the most dominant big man ever and the best defensive player in history would be a true showdown.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant

Most epic on-court trash talk moments caught on camera

Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James all dropped epic lines to hush their foes.

Houston Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks

One-hit wonder — whatever happened to Houston Rockets’ Aaron Brooks?

Aaron Brooks played like an All-Star player in 2009-2010 season. However, his performances dipped due to injuries and alleged attitude problems.

Indiana Pacers legend Reggie Miller, Utah Jazz guard John Stockton, Scottie Pippen forward Chicago Bulls

Reggie Miller on why Scottie Pippen was the X-Factor in the Bulls' NBA Finals wins against the Jazz

Scottie Pippen has literally contained the best point guards in NBA history.

San Antonio Spurs center Tim Duncan, center David Robinson and center Kevin Willis

”We might not want to grab him” - Kevin Willis says Tim Duncan and David Robinson hesitated to throw him into a pool when he first arrived in San Antonio

Former San Antonio Spurs center Kevin Willis recalled his hilarious and epic first meeting with Tim Duncan and David Robinson.

Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan

“There are many days I don't want to be around people and I'm a nasty person” — Michael Jordan opens up about why he doesn’t like showing himself to the public

Throughout his playing days, Michael Jordan hinted why he prefers to stay away from the public spotlight, and true enough, he carries that persona in retirement.


Ben Simmons gets heated after a fan roasts him to his face: "Hey Russell Westbrook! Can't shoot bro?"

The comedian known for clowning NBA players went up to Simmons at the mall, but the Nets star was not having it.