Even though being in professional sports mostly means that keeping things private can be difficult to achieve, there are aspects of a person’s life that should remain private. Health issues going public is no surprise especially if it is an injury that derails an athlete’s playing time or career-ending, which was what happened with one famous basketball player but not in the way that one would expect.
The world became stunned on November 7th, 1991 when basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson declares his surprisingly immediate retirement from the Los Angeles Lakers after a positive test came back for HIV; the virus that can lead to AIDS. Many Americans during this period in time saw AIDS as being only a homosexual disease for white men. Johnson, being a thirty-two-year-old heterosexual African American became one of the original stars in sports to reveal publicly his status of being HIV-positive.
Magic spent his total 13-season NBA career as a player for the Lakers in which he assisted the team in winning five championship titles in the 1980s and became known as one of the best players in basketball of all time. He was a native of Lansing, Michigan and the 6’9” point guard became known for his love of the game, extraordinary passing abilities and for his contagious smile. His signing of a 25-year deal for $25 million with the Lakers in 1981 was one of the NBA’s original over-the-top contracts.
Although being a 12-time All-Star team member and a three-time “Most Valuable Player” in the NBA, his retirement would have had his fans feeling he had accomplished much during his career; however, he may not have felt that way being his announcement of retiring was a tad inaccurate. He played in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game and was voted as the most valuable player while later that summer in Barcelona being a part of what became known as the Olympic “Dream Team” alongside players Patrick Ewing, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird. The team ended up taking the gold in the event for the U.S. Adding to his resume was a brief return to the Lakers as the head coach during the 1993-94 season while the 1995-96 season saw Johnson playing once again for the Lakers although the comeback was short-lived.
Presently, Magic is a well-respected and important spokesman for awareness about AIDS as well as a prosperous businessman who through a variety of dealings, such as restaurants and movie theaters, has made millions. The most important thing to recognize is the positive example he has become on how treatments through a variety of medications have transformed a norm where having AIDS was considered being a death sentence to now becoming a condition that is manageable for lots of citizens in the United States. Sadly, looking back to when the original AIDS cases were reported roughly 25 years ago, the number of deaths associated with AIDS worldwide is 25 million people while those that have contracted the virus has reached 40 million.