Junior Bridgeman – Former University of Louisville basketball player Ulysses “Junior” Bridgman was once a longtime NBA player, but his work off the court in business has earned him more fame. With a net worth of over half a billion dollars, Bridgman is one of the wealthiest former basketball players. (Photo: University of Louisville Athletics)
Louisville, Ky. (BVM) – Known by the nickname Ulysses Bridgman, Jr., he was originally known in the Louisville community for his performances as a member of the University of Louisville men’s basketball team in the mid-1970s. . The East Chicago, Ind., native helped lead his East Chicago Washington High School team to an undefeated season and state championship in 1971, helping the guard find his way to Louisville.
At Louisville, Bridgman carried the same success from high school. During his junior and senior seasons, Bridgeman established himself as one of the nation’s top players, helping lead the Cardinals to the NCAA Tournament and being named the Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year in both seasons. In his senior season, Bridgeman led Louisville to the Final Four, losing to eventual champion UCLA 75–74 in the national semifinals. In his career with the Cardinals, Bridgeman averaged 15.5 points, 7.6 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 87 games.
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Bridgeman helped lead the Cardinals to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 1974 and 1975, including a Final Four appearance in 1975. His play was so impressive that he was selected eighth overall in the 1975 NBA Draft by the Los Angeles Lakers. (Photo: University of Louisville Athletics)
His performance in college caught the eye of NBA scouts, and Bridgeman was selected eighth overall by the Los Angeles Lakers in the 1975 NBA Draft. A week after being selected, Bridgeman was a key player in one of the most influential trades in NBA history. He was traded to the Lakers in the trade that brought Kareem Abdul-Jabbar from Milwaukee to Los Angeles. The deal not only changed the narrative of the NBA, but set up a long and productive path for Bridgeman in Milwaukee.
While he never quite emerged as a Bucks superstar, often used as the team’s sixth man, Bridgeman was able to establish a strong position with the team. During his 12-year career, Bridgeman played 10 seasons with the Bucks and spent two seasons with the Los Angeles Clippers from 1984-1986 before returning to Milwaukee for one final season before retiring in 1987. He finished his career with 11 seasons. . , 517 points, 2,995 rebounds and 2,066 assists for averages of 13.6 points, 3.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
Bridgeman played a total of 711 games for the Bucks, which remains the team record for most games played by a single player. The organization fired Bridgeman No. 2 for his accomplishments on the team.
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While Bridgeman had a long and successful career on the court with the Bucks, it may be the things he learned off the court while in Milwaukee that will help him the most in his post-NBA life.
Bridgeman was the longtime president of the National Basketball Players Association, and during collective bargaining negotiations with the owners, Bridgeman learned from these business moguls aspects that would guide their hopes for financial success. During a breakfast with then-Bucks owner Jim Fitzgerald, Bridgeman confessed to the owner his interest in one day entering the corporate world after his basketball career. Although Bridgman didn’t know it at the time, the decision changed his life.
In April 1988, Bridgeman invested some of his savings in five Wendy’s franchises in Milwaukee. His initial returns weren’t the most fruitful, with his chain averaging more or less than Wendy’s restaurants, so Bridgeman put more time and effort into his restaurants. Before long, Bridgman’s locations were bringing in more and more money each year, which allowed Bridgman to invest more in other Wendy’s restaurants and other businesses such as Chili’s. At his peak in the restaurant industry, Bridgeman owned 240 Wendy’s restaurants, 124 Chili’s, 21 Fazoli’s and five Mark’s Feed stores. Now, Bridgman’s five original positions average more than $1.5 million a year, a huge increase over his original earnings in 1988.
Bridgeman was never considered a financial superstar during his time in the NBA, and his most valuable contract was only $350,000, which seems small compared to today’s multi-million dollar contracts. However, with business acumen, Bridgeman has been able to become one of the richest NBA players of all time in terms of net worth. Bridgeman’s net worth is approximately $600 million, which puts him close to the worth of the most popular athletes of all time, including LeBron James, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and Michael Jordan.
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Bridgeman hasn’t either. To date, he is president and CEO of Bridgman Foods Inc., headquartered in Louisville, and in 2017 he became president and CEO of Heartland Coca-Cola, becoming the third new independent bottler to join the company at the time. Includes Kansas, Missouri and parts of Illinois and Nebraska.
Bridgman was excited about the opportunity to join the team and be part of the bigger picture.
“I’m the least important person here,” Bridgeman said in a Coca-Cola press release. “Getting things done every day, for customers, is really important. I’m just here to support and figure out how to make what they do better, easier and more fun.”
While employed by Coca-Cola in 2018, Bridgman and Canadian businessman Larry Tenenbaum signed a non-binding letter of intent to purchase the company’s Canadian bottling and distribution business, Coca-Cola Refreshments Canada. Bridgeman tried to acquire Sports Illustrated when Meredith Corporation was selling the company in 2019, before it was eventually acquired by WarnerMedia.
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Today, Bridgman’s restaurant business, Manna Inc., owns a number of restaurants, including 139 Wendy’s, 83 Fazoli’s, 27 Golden Corral and seven Blaze Pizza and seven Mark’s Feed stores. In 2019, Greater Louisville Inc. honored Bridgeman with the group’s Gold Cup, which recognizes a lifetime of community service and leadership.
While he may have found his way to Louisville through basketball, it’s clear Bridgeman has made the Kentucky city his home. All it took was a little hard work and a smart investment.
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Bridgeman Shares Credit For His Hof Honor
Ok Now I understand. i understand They only see you as someone who can make jump shots,
He will think. Junior was rejected due to his “lack of experience”, although he has the qualities and leadership skills of a seasoned CEO.
Today, Junior has an estimated net worth of $600 million and is listed as the second richest NBA player behind none other than Michael Jordan. Money isn’t everything, yes, but in today’s climate, it’s necessary to detail how a man born from humble beginnings in Indiana reached such a high level of success without a big shoe deal, earning more than $350,000 in his 12 NBA seasons. Plays for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers. Don’t get it mixed up: there was no tilt at the junior court. At 6-5 and with a silky smooth jumper, he was back-to-back Missouri Valley Player of the Year, reached Louisville’s Final Four, was selected No. 8 overall in the 1975 NBA Draft and was one of the best sixth men. of his era. His number 2 jersey has been raised to the roof of the Milwaukee Bucks Arena during the series.
But what does greatness look like on the other side of the game? As a player, you have tunnel vision of championships and personal milestones to advance your career. There is rarely time to think about another career when the average retirement date for players is three to four years. Every now and then a sign reveals itself.
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“During the collective bargaining agreement I sat down with the NBA owners [Junior served as president of the NBPA when he played] and I saw how happy they were and what excited them.
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