Richest AthletesNBA Players
Net Worth:
$500 Million
Date of Birth:
Sep 1, 1956 (67 years old)
Place of Birth:
Basketball player
United States of America
💰 Compare Vinnie Johnson's Net Worth

What is Vinnie Johnson's Net Worth?

Vinnie Johnson is a retired professional basketball player and entrepreneur who has a net worth of $500 million. Vinnie Johnson earned a total of $6 million during his NBA career which lasted from 1979 through 1992. During his NBA career Vinnie played for the Seattle SuperSonics, Detroit Pistons, and San Antonio Spurs. With the Pistons, he won the NBA championships 1989 and 1990. During his playing career, Johnson earned the nickname "the Microwave" thanks to his ability to heat up the offense right after coming off the bench. He was a fan favorite who scored 11,825 points during his career and had his #15 retired by the Pistons.

Vinnie earned the vast majority of his wealth through a business he formed after his NBA career ended. After retiring, Vinnie founded an automotive company called the Piston Group. Today the Piston Group employs over 11,500 people, who assemble hundreds of car parts for major car companies in 3.5 million square feet of facilities around the US. The Piston Group generates around $3 billion in annual revenue. Vinnie Johnson famously "only" made $6 million in salary during his NBA career, but thanks to the Piston Group, is one of the richest NBA players and richest athletes overall in the world. Much more on the Piston Group later in this article.

Early Life and Collegiate Career

Vinnie Johnson was born on September 1, 1956 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. He has a younger brother named Eric who went on to play in the NBA for the Utah Jazz. Johnson went to Franklin Delano Roosevelt High School in Brooklyn.

After high school Vinnie enrolled at McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas, where he was the star on the school basketball team for two seasons. In the 1976-77 season, he led the team to the NJCAA national tournament and was named a junior college All-American. For the next season, Johnson transferred to Baylor University across town, where he remained through the end of his college career.

Johnson became one of the greatest scorers in Baylor basketball history, averaging 24.1 points per game across his two seasons. He was a two-time All-American, set a school record for points-per-game average, and was named All-SWC twice. In 1979, he recorded the most points in a single game by any Baylor player, with 50 against TCU.

Start of NBA Career

In the 1979 NBA draft, Johnson was chosen as the number seven overall pick by the Seattle SuperSonics. In 1981, he was traded to the Detroit Pistons. With the Pistons, Johnson earned the nickname "the Microwave" from Boston Celtics guard Danny Ainge. The nickname was a reference to Vinnie's ability to heat up the offense by scoring multiple points within a short span of time soon after entering the game from the bench.

Vinnie Johnson Net Worth

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NBA Championships

Johnson had one of his greatest seasons with the Pistons in 1988-89. The team dominated the Eastern Conference, winning 63 games across the regular season. Following a sweep of the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, the Pistons defeated the Chicago Bulls in six games, advancing to the finals for the second consecutive year, once again facing off against the Los Angeles Lakers. This time, the Pistons won the series by sweeping the injury-beset Lakers in four games. It was the first NBA championship win for the Pistons, as well as the first championship since 1983 to be won by a team other than the Lakers or the Celtics.

Johnson and the Pistons continued their success in the 1989-90 season, winning 13 consecutive games in January and February and going on to record a 12-game winning streak in March. With a 59-23 record, the team finished first in the Eastern Conference. In the first round of the playoffs, the Pistons swept the Indiana Pacers in three games; they then beat the New York Knicks in the semifinals and the Chicago Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals to proceed to the NBA Finals for the third straight year. The Pistons subsequently defeated the Portland Trail Blazers in five games to win their second consecutive NBA championship. Crucial to the victory was Johnson's 14-foot shot with 0.7 seconds left on the clock, putting the Pistons up 92–90 to take Game 5 and the title.

Career Earnings

Over the course of his NBA career, Vinnie Johnson earned just over $6 million in total NBA salary. His largest single-season salary of $1.4 million was earned in the two seasons between 1990 and 1992. Earning $1.4 million in 1992 is the same as earning around $3 million today. Earning $6 million in total during the late 80s and early 90s is the same as earning around $13 million in today's dollars.


Later Playing Career and Retirement

Johnson played his final season with the Pistons in 1990-91. Entering the season as the two-time defending NBA champions, the team was hoping to win a third straight title. Things started off well, with the Pistons recording a nine-game winning streak in November. However, they went on to lose six of their next seven games in December. The team bounced back midway through the season, winning 11 consecutive games and finishing second in the Central Division with a record of 50-32. In the playoffs, the Pistons won their first series against the Atlanta Hawks, and their second against the Boston Celtics. They subsequently advanced to their fifth straight Eastern Conference Finals, where they were ultimately swept by the Bulls.

Following the end of the 1990-91 season, Johnson signed as a free agent with the San Antonio Spurs. The team had a promising start to the season with a 10-3 record, but soon struggled with a 21-17 record by late January. Under their replacement coach Bob Bass, the Spurs rebounded to finish second in the Midwest Division with a record of 47-35. However, in the first round of the playoffs, the team was swept by the Phoenix Suns in three consecutive games. In 1992, Johnson officially retired from the NBA.

The Piston Group

After retiring from the NBA, Vinnie wasn't content to just sit around and play golf for the rest of his life. He also likely didn't have enough money to last several decades of life after earning "only" $6 million (pre-tax) in salary. So he decided to start a business.

Vinnie's first venture was a construction business he started with some friends. Unfortunately, this business folded after their first project.

In 1995 Vinnie, the former "Piston," thought it would be wise to start an auto packaging business in Detroit. He called his company The Piston Group.

Over the next decade The Piston Group became a leading supplier of automobile parts to major international automotive companies, including General Motors and the Ford Motor Company. Johnson serves as the Piston Group's chairman and CEO.

Vinnie continues to serve as the Chairman and CEO. His empire employs 11,500+ people in the United States and generates a little under $3 billion in annual revenue. The company is one of the world's largest minority-owned businesses.

Among his other business interests, Johnson has served as the chairman of the board of directors for the joint ventures JL Automotive and PASA Modules. He is also a member of the Michigan Minority Business Development Council and the Detroit Chamber of Commerce.

Vinnie Johnson Earnings

  • San Antonio Spurs (1992-93)
    $210 Thousand
  • San Antonio Spurs (1991-92)
    $130 Thousand
  • Detroit Pistons (1991-92)
    $1.5 Million
  • Detroit Pistons (1990-91)
    $1.4 Million
  • Detroit Pistons (1988-89)
    $633 Thousand
  • Detroit Pistons (1987-88)
    $633 Thousand
  • Detroit Pistons (1985-86)
    $491.7 Thousand
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