It was one of those iconic "I remember where I was’’ moments in the world of sports.
You can put it right up there with where you were the day the O.J. Simpson verdict was announced.
This time, this memorable announcement came 25 years ago today. And I was sitting in the sports department at the Dallas Times Herald when Magic Johnson announced at a major news conference that he was retiring from the Los Angeles Lakers because he was HIV positive.
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What? No way!
This was one of those shocking out of the blue stories that, had Twitter been around back then, oh yeah, it would been broken completely off its axis.
Shock waves reverberated all across the land following Johnson’s terrifying words. No one could believe what had just happened, what they had just heard.
And no one knew the depth of what Johnson’s words meant.
However, you could feel the sadness jumping through the TV screen. You could sense tears being shed from state to state, and outside the walls of the United States, since Johnson was such a popular athlete and admired NBA spokesman known around the world.
Plus, since a lot of people viewed HIV as a death sentence because of our lack of knowledge about the virus at the time, we all thought Johnson was about to die. I’m just talking about what I’m talking about.
But Johnson, a hero and role model to millions, immediately became a spokesman in the fight against HIV. And through treatment and medicine, he has lived another 25 years with this virus.
Today, Magic is part owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers and is also a well-respected businessman. And he still flashes that effervescent smile that he’s known for – the smile that was replaced by a stone-face Johnson 25 years ago today.
Indeed, Nov. 7, 1991 is a day that will live in infamy. And a day that I’ll never forget.