Junior Bridgeman was not a superstar athlete like Magic Johnson or Michael Jordan – however he outhustled them in the business front.
When Ulysses “Junior” Bridgeman was drafted in 1975 by the Los Angeles Lakers, he was immediately traded to the Milwaukee Bucks as a part of the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar trade. While he did have a decent 12 year career, he was nothing spectacular.
Averaging 13.6 points a game, Bridgeman was a solid role player for the Bucks. He also fulfilled his destiny of playing in the west coast of Los Angeles, playing a couple of years with the Clippers.
Junior played in an era where if your name was not Larry Bird, Magic Johnson or Wilt Chamberlain, you did not get paid in millions. The modern basketball player earns in millions even if he is a rookie, but a 6th man level output player only could earn 350,000 per year when Junior went to the Clippers.
He understood that this money was okay to live comfortably when active, but nothing to live with after retiring. Since he was not a well known player, brand endorsements were non existent. Junior did what no athlete would ever do because of their ego: worked summers in a Wendy’s franchise. Along with that, he also did a law degree and basically prepared himself for a life after the spotlight.
Junior Bridgeman was Shaq, before Shaq
Shaquille O’Neal‘s business investment stories are something of a legend. There is no product he has his finger on, and no one is more diverse in terms of investment than Shaq. From Google shares to Donut franchises, the man did everything he could to make sure he never went bankrupt. It may never be known if Brigdeman’s investment strategy and hustle is what Shaq looked at to start his business career as well.
Even after earning millions, we hear about athletes going broke almost immediately after retiring. Ben Simmons 5 years into his playing career is broke. Bridgeman decided he wouldn’t be like the others, and literally hustled everyday, to provide for himself and his family. It was his working at the Wendy’s outlet that got him into owning a couple of franchises, which turned into a whopping 100+ outlets.
In 2016, he decided to sell all of his stakes in the franchise, and cash out. Junior made a cool estimated 600 million dollars, which he then reinvested in other ventures. He became an official bottler for Coca Cola, with an intent to buy over the process. We see a lot of top athletes now not relying purely on their NBA salaries. Shrewd business investments and cutting back on spending seems to be the trend right now.