Magic Johnson: 20 Years After the HIV Announcement
Twenty years ago, on Novermber 7th, 1991, my perspective on life was altered when I heard the news about Magic Johnson retiring from the NBA for the first time due to his having been infected with the HIV virus. You know how there are moments in your past when you can think about how you changed from being a child into a young adult, and from young adult to adulthood? His announcement was one of those I look back and realized that much of my own innocence was being lost.
For perspective here you should know I am a fan of the Boston Celtics, the most hated rival for the Los Angeles Lakers, the team magic played tweleve years for before retiring that day. And I hated Magic, I really did.
But as his career wound down and he continued to be just so damn good on the court my hatred changed and ultimately I found myself with a lot of respect for Magic as a player. So, even as a Celtics fan, when I heard Magic was retiring because of HIV, I was crushed. I could not imagine an NBA season without Magic. Worse, I couldn't imagine Magic dying of AIDS, it just didn't seem possible. Was he gay? A drug user? How long did he have to live, anyway? Did they catch it in time? Most celebrities that announced if they had HIV or AIDS were dead in a short amount of time.
It's been 20 years, so why isn't Magic dead yet?
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My guess is that they caught it in time, due to regular physicals conducted as part of his being a professional athlete. Plus, Magic had the best doctors available to him, and he had the financial resources available to him for any necessary treatments. Also, at that time in 1991, there was turning point in the battle against AIDS, and new treatments for HIV were becoming available. I am fairly certain had Magic contracted HIV just a few years sooner he would be dead today.