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When OJ Simpson Confessed Why Magic Johnson’s Impact on HIV Awareness was Far Greater Than Hollywood

Abhishek Dhariwal

When OJ Simpson Confessed Why Magic Johnson's Impact on HIV Awareness was Far Greater Than Hollywood

Magic Johnson was a star right out of the gate in the NBA, helping the Los Angeles Lakers win an NBA championship during just his rookie year. Over the next 11 seasons, Magic Johnson won four more titles while also playing in 11 All-Star games throughout his 13-year NBA career. Many said that Johnson retired despite being at the peak of his game after testing positive for HIV, a tough blow, no doubt. However, OJ Simpson believed Johnson’s condition ended up having a massive positive too, one that the efforts of Hollywood could never compare to.

Magic Johnson was one of the perennial stars in the league back in the 90s.  However, after testing positive with HIV before the 1992 Olympics, Johnson decided to announce his retirement from the league right away.

The superstar had to part ways with the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA as well but chose to use his platform and condition to spread awareness of HIV and AIDS, something he stayed true to over the years.

An article from back in November 1992 by Sports Illustrated did a special feature on infamous NFL legend OJ Simpson. And since it was in the same year Magic announced his retirement from the league, the topic of the former athlete’s condition was brought to the forefront as well.

During the interview, OJ was asked if Magic Johnson’s contracting AIDS had any impact on professional athletes overall. In response, he did not hold back while talking about Johnson’s condition, how it impacted him, and the way he turned it around.

“For the first time heterosexuals felt threatened by AIDS. Magic brought it home. I think those one-night stands—meeting a girl at a bar—will change…If I was an active player today, especially a bachelor playing in the NBA, I would be really concerned.”

Simpson definitely sounded harsh. However, to his credit, he was completely honest about any thoughts he had on the situation . This was something that was required for the public at the time since many did not take the problem very seriously.

When asked how Magic’s revelation had a bigger impact on HIV despite people actually dying of AIDS, OJ simply stated, “Magic is a real guy. What you see is what you get. He’s not acting, he’s not playing somebody else. I could almost cry right now thinking about Magic looking like that. Last spring I spent an evening at an affair for Lyle Alzado. I just sat there in tears. I was trying to relate to a guy who knows he’s dying, and he was there to help others not make that mistake [taking anabolic steroids].”

Fortunately, Magic Johnson never lost hope. And soon, all of the Lakers legend’s efforts in finding a solution paid dividends. And now, due to advancements in medicine, the legend is still alive and well over 30 years after his diagnosis.

Magic Johnson took one on the chin and still came out victorious


After contracting the disease, Magic Johnson went on to become one of the biggest advocates against HIV and AIDS, along with his wife, Cookie. Johnson admitted his mistakes and even cleared the air of false information and the narrative of HIV and AIDS being spread through only having intimate relations with the same gender.

The now-64-year-old stood strong and denied all false allegations. Due to his efforts Magic’s story soon gained nationwide attention and in 2004, Johnson was credited as a hero by former United States President, George W. Bush.

With the work both Magic and Cookie have done over the years, the couple’s efforts did not go unrecognized, and were even honored with the Elizabeth Taylor Commitment to End AIDS Award [per Variety] while attending the 4th annual Elizabeth Taylor Ball to End AIDS.

A disease that was hell-bent on taking Magic Johnson’s life, was later conclusively conquered by the NBA legend. Further, he even ended up becoming one of the biggest vocalists against HIV and AIDS, a position he still holds strongly to this day.

Post Edited By:Tonoy Sengupta

About the author

Abhishek Dhariwal

Abhishek Dhariwal


A fan of the sport since the late 2000s, Abhishek has been covering the game of basketball for the past five years now. Having done his masters in Journalism and Mass Communication, Abhishek prides himself in being referred to as a sports journalist at The SportsRush. A fan of the San Antonio Spurs since the Tim Duncan era, Abhishek has an extensive knowledge of the sport and has covered more than 1500 articles. Having a firsthand experience of the sport, Abhishek has represented his city and state at a district and national level. And it is the same level of expertise he aims to bring while covering extensive topics both on and off the court of your favorite basketball stars.

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