Today marks the 20th anniversary of one of the most infamous days in the history of the Los Angeles Lakers and one of their greatest stars – Magic Johnson.
There are a few moments in life that you remember with absolute clarity. You can instantly recall where you were, who you were with, and how you witnessed the situation unfold. For millions of people the sudden retirement of Earvin Johnson was one of those moments.
On this date back in 1991 the entire sports world was rocked by the news that basketball’s greatest star would be retiring after learning he had obtained the HIV virus. At the time the announcement was met with a variety of different emotions.
At the time this was seen as a death sentence since doctors and physicians didn’t have the knowledge of the disease that they do today. Back in 1991 the contraction of HIV was seen as a certain precursor to AIDS, and ultimately death.
The thought of losing the biggest star the city had ever seen was staggering. At the time of his retirement it didn’t just seem like the NBA was losing Magic Johnson, it seemed like the world was losing Magic Johnson.
As time went by Johnson didn’t drift far from the public spotlight. In fact, he made several comeback attempts after his initial retirement in Nov. 1991. Johnson returned in 1992 for the Summer Olympics, but spent the majority of the tournament sidelined with injuries.
Johnson returned to the NBA twice following his first retirement, and both times were met with skepticism and in some cases, hostility. Numerous players stated their uneasiness about playing against a player that was HIV positive. After one final comeback attempt in the 1995-96 season Johnson called it quits for good, and began to focus on other areas of his life.
However, after hanging up his shorts Johnson actually saw his popularity begin to flourish. He became one of the most well-known entrepreneurs on the planet, and opened small businesses across California and the rest of the country.
Johnson opened a variety of discount movie theaters, coffee restaurants and other small businesses, and became synonymous withe Los Angeles culture beyond the court.
Next Page: Magic’s Legacy Grows off the Court