Back in 1991 when Magic Johnson announced he had HIV, a young Kobe Bryant was devastated that he couldn’t watch his idol play the game anymore.
Magic Johnson was one of the best players ever. However, there did come a tough phase in the 5-time NBA champ’s career. Back in November of 1991, Johnson stunned the whole world announcing that he had contracted the HIV virus.
During that time, the understanding of the virus was much more different from what it is now. Especially in California, the area had been hit hard during the epidemic leading the league to panic.
This news spread in no time and left many fans and fellow players in shock. Johnson, who was known to be a womaniser, wasn’t responsible enough, leading to the eventual diagnosis. No player wanted to play with or against Magic. The league had forced its 12-time All-Star to retire from the game.
Like many of Magic’s fan, a young 13-year-old Kobe Bryant too was devastated as the news broke out. He revealed how he was sad as he won’t be seeing his legend play basketball anymore. Bryant also confirmed how he didn’t eat for days as he heard the news. On the show – “In Depth with Graham Bensinger”, back in 2012, the Mamba revealed:
“I was devastated, I didn’t know, I didn’t understand what it was. I just knew it was gonna stop him from doing what he loves to do. So I was devastated, and I had no idea what was going on. So it was a tough day.”
“It was extremely difficult. It’s like you have your hero and a person that you look up to, and all of a sudden, he’s not there anymore. You can’t watch him perform anymore. It’s tough.”
Magic Johnson returned to the NBA playing 32 games before retiring as one of the all-time greats
Since no player or staff wanted to be associated with Johnson when he got the virus, he was forced to retire. However, the Lakers legend did make a comeback in the 1995-1996 NBA season.
Magic played 32 games before he retired for good. Today, nearly 30 years later, Earvin is one of the front spokespeople for spreading AIDS awareness.
Magic Johnson was one the best player to ever suit up in the purple and gold. Standing at 6-foot-9, Magic revolutionised how the position of point guard was played. With his unique style of play, the Hall-Of-Famer managed to have one of the most illustrious careers in NBA history.
Not only Johnson but Kobe too was amongst the best ever to play for the Lakeshow. Bryant managed to average 25 points, 5.2 rebounds 4.7 assists in his 20-year-long career.
On the other hand, Johnson averaged a whopping 19.5 points, 11.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds. The two legends have blessed the league impacting it positively, in many ways and will go down as two of the best Lakers of all time.