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16 Years Ago Magic Shocked Us


Where were you 16 years ago on November 7, 1991? Do you remember what you were doing when Magic Johnson told us all that he had tested positive for H.I.V.? I recall that day like it was yesterday.

Football practice had ended shortly before the start of Magic’s press conference. I was one of a group of 45 other players in the locker room when the equipment manager started yelling about a major announcement coming from the L.A. Lakers. Rumors were hot that something big was going down in Hollywood and we scrambled to find the TV to witness history.

I still remember how bad it smelled because none of us hit the showers as we stood in soiled uniforms in front of the tube. It wouldn’t be long before the greatest point guard in NBA history stated he was H.I.V. positive and would be retiring immediately. Everyone in the room fell silent… I was the first person to break that dead calm by shouting DAMN!!!!!! Before long, all 45, soon to be the entire team of 95, was debating Magic’s fate and his reputation.

Was he gay? What about Isiah Thomas and those kisses during the NBA Finals? Hmmmm… nah, not Magic… he got plenty of girls… he’s Magic Johnson!

How long would he live? Is he a dead man walking? What about his wife and kids? Why was he so wreckless and carefree?

There were so many questions unanswered that night. It was that rare moment when you could think about only one subject hour upon hour. I recall that day 16 years ago because that was the day Magic Johnson told me that if I can get it, anybody can get it.


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