Donald Sterling's interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, May 11, 2014.
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WHAT MAKES MAGIC SO DAMN SPECIAL?
WHAT MAKES MAGIC SO DAMN SPECIAL?
I’m not going to load this up with links – go to cnn.com and search Donald Sterling and I’m sure something will pop-up, if his picture is not already front and center on their site. Sterling had an interview Sunday with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, which aired last night. One of the gems to come out of that hot mess was Sterling asking (rhetorically, I guess) what makes Magic (Irvin Johnson) so special. I’m taking the liberty to answer the question myself.
Magic, Norm Nixon, Bob McAdoo….do I need to say anything else? Back in the early 90’s, Magic Johnson was what LeBron James is today. Bigger even. But he was also young. He did dumb shit like we all did.
The day that he announced that he was HIV positive was worse than watching O.J. riding down the California freeway after Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman’s death. Magic, to most of us, was (and still is) a basketball god, worthy of anything and everything except HIV.
HIV and AIDS were still relatively new terms in 1991. It was being labeled as a disease that homosexuals got. At the time, we didn’t know any better. We were still trying to figure out what the CDC was telling us about this disease that had actors and dancers dropping like flies. At that time, people were not even trying to have conversations about it for fear of even appearing like you “might” know somebody that had it. Yes, it was that bad.
Then Magic walks up to mike, and starts talking. We didn’t know. Leaving the Lakers, taking a sabbatical, another injury. Hell, we just didn’t know….until we kept listening. After the shock kicked-in, questions came from everywhere. Was he sure? Was he gay? Have other players been infected because he played with them? And yes, we were that dumb about HIV/AIDS back then.
Magic didn’t go off into a “good night”, never to be heard of again. He stepped up. Hell, Cookie Johnson stepped up. Despite the negative, really negative, publicity the disease was getting at the time, Cookie said ‘He’s mine. Period.’ And stuck it out with Magic. Magic brought what he could do on the basketball court to the arena of HIV/AIDS. He spoke out about it. He made commercials about it. When some of the smoke cleared, he got other ball players involved. He reached out the Hollywood community. He sought out regular people that were battling the disease and offered his support.
Unlike Donald Sterling, Magic walked right into the situation, apologized where he needed to and started working to make it better. He didn’t blame his contraction of HIV on some female. He didn’t get on national television and start criticizing anyone. He went to the Olympics as a part of the American Dream Team and whipped some ass. Came back home, and kept helping.
Magic went beyond the HIV/AIDS community and stepped back into the Black community and said these people have to shop too. They need stores, movie theaters, fitness centers, things to do when they aren’t working or in school. He reached out drug dealers and gang bangers and told them it wasn’t all bad, all the time. He made corporate America take a step back and look at where the real dollars are. Never accusing. Never condemning.
And that’s what makes Magic so damn special.
Magic Johnson retiring from basketball, November 7, 1991:http://youtu.be/iSfy4AhDDnw