On November 7, 1991....Magic Johnson announced to the world that he had HIV.
I was 16 years old and Magic Johnson was my favorite athlete. Not my favorite Laker or my favorite NBA player. He was my favorite athlete. I am honest when I say that I couldn't really care that much [well, not as much as other people do] to meet an athlete. Sure, bumping into Michael Jordan would be really cool....but I wouldn't rush him to meet him [dude has places in Charlotte...so I've had my chances]. But I really, really, really wanted to meet Magic. In 1999, my wife gave me that chance by getting me tickets to a speaking engagement he held at a local college.
Anyways....Magic was, and still is, my favorite athlete in any sport. Needless to say that on November 7, 1991...my heart broke.
Funny, since earlier in 1991...the Lakers somehow got to the NBA Finals and were quickly dispersed by the Bulls. In that series, I wondered what the Lakers would be like without Magic. I mean, I really never knew a Laker team without Magic on it. And then it happened before I got a chance to see him play again.
I remember hearing the news. My mom called me at home to tell me that the news was saying that Magic Johnson has AIDS. Now, when you hear something like that...you obviously don't believe it. But, upon turning Headline News on [remember, the internet wasn't that poppin' and there wasn't the wall-to-wall sports news stations like now]...she was right. Not too much longer, I saw Magic's news conference that literally shocked me. I probably spent the next day and a half watching nothing but that.
It still bothers me. It pretty much ended a great era in one of my favorite sports franchises [my Redskins great era ended the same time....and still haven't recovered]. When watching old games...I still can't see how there is any player in the league better than him. Yeah, Jordan is great....but watch Magic play. Jordan did these great things himself. Magic made great things happen for other people. No player ever made me feel comfortable that HE had the ball. You knew he had complete control of the game. I still have a tape of the 1992 NBA All Star Game he competed in and watch it from time to time [it also features the late Reggie Lewis and a young and unbelievably talented Dennis Rodman].
I hope everything stays good, Magic.