Still work to do 20 years after Magic
I don’t remember where I specifically was 20 years ago today – it was a seminal sporting moment but not one of those “I was standing in this exact spot when I heard the news” instances – but I do recall a sense of loss, of confusion, of sadness.
It was two decade ago, in what has to be one of the most significant sports events of my lifetime (there's some video over at Faceoff, er, Facebook Central that you should go take a look at and like), that Magic Johnson stood in the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles, telling the world that his NBA career was over because he’d been diagnosed as HIV positive.
It was shocking. We knew far too little about the disease, had little understanding, comparatively, of how it was spread, what it’s impact was, how a heterosexual man could have it.
He was Magic Johnson, for goodness sakes.
There are and will be all kinds of stories about that day floating out there today (Marc Stein’s here is the best I’ve read) but I wonder how many of them will touch on the present, and the impact of the Magic announcement, rather than the nostalgic look at a life-changing moment.
There is no question that Magic, through public awareness and the untold millions of dollars his foundation has raised, has done tremendous work in education and treatment of a disease that still kills too many worldwide.
There are no idiotic players or people who would fear being on the same court as someone who has the HIV virus like there were back when Johnson mounted a comeback. People have seen him flourish despite being diagnosed with a disease everyone figured was fatal 20 years ago.
I remember wondering – and I was not in the minority with this thought, I don’t imagine – whether we’d see him waste away before our very eyes over the years. That didn’t happen in his case, of course, and for that we should be thankful.
Really, Magic has done admirable work and is by far the most high-profile athlete to take up the cause of AIDS prevention and the search for some kind of cure. We are better off for him having done that but there is so much more we can do. Yes, he has thrived in the intervening 20 years, healthy, wealthy, and as prominent a businessman as he was an athlete. But AIDS and HIV are still with us, people die daily while a search for a cure continues, there is more work to be done by us all.
It is all well and good to celebrate Johnson, the work he’s done, the life he’s lived, the person he’s become since he left the game.
It is all well and good to watch the grainy old videos of him as a player and the utter joy he got from playing the game.
But Magic Johnson got the best medical attention anyone in the world could get to help him deal with his illness 20 years ago, until we can make sure others are afforded the same, there is work to do.
Maybe today stands as a reminder of that, rather than of a dark day in sports history.
And maybe that’s the good that comes of this anniversary: There are ways to fight this blight, the battle must continue.
Okay, time for fun, and a list.
(Told you there was stuff left over from the weekend to parcel out)
Q: How about a list.
Can you list your top five favourite (and least favourite) sport logos of all time?
S S, Newmarket
A: So many choices, good and bad.
Let me get these off my chest and off the top of my head and we’ll see what you think:
It looks a bit cuddly, doesn’t it? Oh, and there’s the whole “are-there-grizzlies-in-Memphis” part of it.
Odd, that’s all.
Looks like snowflakes or something, doesn’t it?
Portland Trail Blazers
A bunch of squiggly lines? Um, okay.
And the absolute worst
Oh, and I will say that of the four pro sports, the NBA probably has more bad ones than any of them.
Under-stated but forceful. Or something like that.
Detroit Red Wings
Just classy, and timeless.
Yes, I’m throwing it in ‘cause it was cool.
More traditionalist in me, I guess.
And maybe my all-time favourite
I like the subtlety of the ‘M’ and the ‘B’. Don’t you?
And, of course some of you had to know this was coming today simply because of the opening lyric …
Wonder how Dwane Casey’s feeling today?
Today was the day the Dallas Mavericks, the team he helped coach to an NBA championship just five months ago, were to make their only visit to Toronto.
Now, I’m pretty sure, if history holds, that the Raptors would have taken a big lead, spit it up and lost a heart-breaker but I bet Casey would have loved the chance to compete against his old team.
And, yes, the lockout sucks. I kinda was looking forward to this early season game as some kind of litmus test for Casey and whatever new defensive system he’d devised.
Oh, and it would have been fun to bust on the Dirk-Andrea talk, as it always is.
Oh yeah. Wanna talk some football?
Somehow they keep roping me into doing that NFL chat thingy at noon so stop by, it’s fun. Most of the time.