Lunch time, November 7, 1991. In the press room of the Forum di Inglewood, a The Angels, the atmosphere is tense, not a fly flies: the staff of Lakers has gathered the media for a very important communication regarding the conditions of Earvin Johnson Jr., better known as Magic Johnson. He hasn’t been training for a few weeks, he was also cut off list of those called up of the first three games of regular season for an unspecified “stomach ache”.
Many, that day, had smelled that it would come bad news about the health of the legendary NBA champion at the time 32enne. But no one (or almost) imagined what Magic, shortly thereafter, would have declared publicly, in front of that microphone. He had received the news of the test on October 24, while he was in Salt Lake City for a friendly match: Michael Mellman, team doctor, arranged new analyzes. Which confirmed the outcome.
“Stayed sitting still in that studio for at least two hours, ”Johnson said in the past. “I could not understand that everything, for me, it was changing in that instant. Is that I risked dying“. Yes, in those years it was thought that having HIV meant being condemned in the end, it was only a matter of time: by the way the boulder on the athlete’s shoulders it was even heavier since he had recently discovered of expect a child with her Cookie.
“In my life I have faced the best basketball players, I have made finals and won championships, I know pressure well “, Magic said a few days ago while speaking with Gayle King during CBS Mornings. “Still, telling my wife that I was HIV positive was the hardest thing, because I have always loved her so much and I couldn’t bear the idea of having been able to hurt“. Fortunately, the analyzes of the woman – and therefore also of the baby in her womb – were negative.
A ray of light for Johnson, who appears in the press room with a decisive attitude around two o’clock, suit and tie, serious but not afraid. “To begin with, good afternoon. Because of the HIV virus I got today I have to retire from the Lakers », the basketball player begins, unleashing a background buzz. «First of all I want to specify that I’m not sick with AIDS, because I know that many of you will want to know ». A necessary clarification, at the fundamental time.
“Yes, I’m HIV positive, but that doesn’t mean my life is over. I will miss playing, sure, but I will become a spokesperson of the fight against HIV, because I want people and young people to understand what they can do safe sex. Sometimes we are naive and think that these things happen to others. I will go on, I will defeat the virus and I will continue to enjoy myself », he concluded Magic, alongside the historic commissioner Star of david and his wife, dressed in white.
“A suit he had meaningRevealed Cookie. “I would never have worn something dark, I chose that color for his brightness, as a symbol of a bright future“. To think that at the beginning she was skeptical about publicly disclosing the disease: «At that time it was there little knowledge of matter, many thought that it could not not even touch a person with HIV. My fear is that they would treat us like gods plague victims».
And instead the Magic speech – which as a precaution, after the All Star Game and the Olympic Games retired from basketball – he inflicted a decisive blow against stigma, revolutionizing the perception of the disease worldwide. “Today I am trent’anni that I live with HIV », wrote the historic champion on Twitter. “God has blessed me. I thank the Lord for giving me strength and for guiding me ». And making it a symbol of a fight which continues today.