Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Magic's Announcement, 20 Years Later.

Although I'm just 38 31 years old, there are a handful of "do you remember where you were when..." moments that I can distinctly recall. The Challenger explosion. The Reagan assassination attempt. September 11th. OJ's infamous Bronco escape. Chris Webber's wayward "timeout" that won UNC the national title. Obama's election. The first time I heard the "Scenario" remix. You ask me where I was today, when those things happened, and I can tell you the date, time, what I was wearing, who I was dating, and what I had for lunch.

Magic Johnson's announcement that he'd contracted the HIV virus and was leaving the NBA immediately was one such day. I remember sitting in my dormroom watching the news, and this was the lead story. Word didn't travel so quickly in the pre-internets days, but you could slowly but surely hear the murmur spread from room to room on my floor. When the press conference was over, everyone walked out into the hallway, silent. Before you knew it, one guy started crying, and then 20 grown-assed 18 year old men were crying. You'd think someone's biological father had died.

I wasn't even the biggest Magic or Lakers fan, but something about watching a well-known athlete at the prime of his career announce such startling news just hit home. Sure, I'd known of other people who's contracted HIV, and even died of the fullblown "package", but you always figured a guy like Magic was somehow immune. Apparently, his Johnson was not Magic enough.

In the years since, Johnson has gone on to live a healthy and productive life. Hell, I've venture to guess most 15 year olds probably know him more as the guy who owns all those Starbucks, instead of the game's best point guard evar! And of course, Magic's continued vitality has spawned a million and one conspiracies about him, and the virus itself.

Still, 20 years later, I wonder what we all learned from this. Chime in below with your thoughts.

Question: Did you think Magic Johnson's HIV infection was some sort of conspiracy? How did his announcement change your personal sexual behavior? Do you still remember where you were when you found out?

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