"I called owners throughout the league, and I even called the commissioner, David Stern," Hornet owner George Shinn said. "The bottom line is that if you're going to win, you've got to pay the freight. We had to get numbers we could live with and make Larry happy."
The Hornets would not confirm the precise terms of Johnson's contract, although the figures were widely reported in the local media. One of Johnson's agents, Steve Endicott, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Patrick Ewing of the New York Knicks currently has the NBA's highest annual average salary--$9.4 million salary over the next two years, the result of a contract extension for 1995-96 and 1996-97.
The Philadelphia 76ers gave Shawn Bradley of Brigham Young an eight-year contract worth $44.2 million, the largest package at the time.
Johnson, the 1992 rookie of the year an all-star forward last season, led the team in scoring and rebounding, averaging 22.1 points and 10.5 rebounds a game.
"I have always wanted to spend my entire career in the Charlotte community and concentrate on bringing the city a championship one day," Johnson said. "George Shinn has had the same commitment to the community and to myself, and I am grateful for this move to keep the team together so that so that we can reach our goal."
Added Shinn: "He says this is his town. He wants to stay here. He realizes that we're committed to winning and we have all the ingredients here now. It just makes sense to lock him in now."