It is really hard to explain to people who are growing up now the spector that HIV/AIDS cast back in the late 1980s and early 1990s — it was a death sentence that you could get through sex. There were drug regimines just coming on the market but nobody knew if they would work, nobody really knew what was going to happen to people who contracted the disease or how long you could live with it.
That was the environment around HIV-positive Magic Johnson and the Dream Team in 1992.
Long-time Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum has a new book coming out on the original Dream Team — a book I can’t wait to read — and Deadspin got some excerpts with Clyde Drexler talking about Magic on that team.
Drexler was never fond of Magic’s comeback — from the 1992 All-Star Game where Magic dropped 25 points — and those bitter feelings are still there.
“Magic was always…” And Drexler goes into a decent Magic impression: “‘Come on, Clyde, come on, Clyde, get with me, get with me,’ and making all that noise. And, really, he couldn’t play much by that time. He couldn’t guard his shadow.”
“But you have to understand what was going on then. Everybody kept waiting for Magic to die. Every time he’d run up the court everybody would feel sorry for the guy, and he’d get all that benefit of the doubt. Magic came across like, ‘All this is my stuff.’ Really? Get outta here, dude. He was on the declining end of his career.”
Drexler had played exquisitely in the 1992 All-Star Game in Orlando, although the MVP award eventually went to Magic, who had been added by Commissioner Stern as a special thirteenth player to the Western Conference roster. “If we all knew Magic was going to live this long, I would’ve gotten the MVP of that game, and Magic probably wouldn’t have made the Olympic team.”
Wow. Bitter much?
I think these comments say a lot more about Drexler than they do about Magic or the Dream Team.