It was 20 years ago today that the basketball world, and the world for that matter, changed drastically.
In a press conference held in Los Angeles, Earvin "Magic" Johnson announced to the world that he is HIV positive and will retire from the NBA immediately.
A lot was still unknown about HIV and AIDS at that time. People thought that it was an automatic death sentence and could get HIV or AIDS from someone by just touching them or being in the same room as them and that AIDS was only a disease that gay men get. Magic Johnson's announcement changed all that.
Everybody thought the worst for Magic Johnson. He is going to die soon, people thought. How did he acquire HIV? Nobody knew. Former Detroit Piston and all around ignorant man Isiah Thomas claimed that Magic was gay or at least bisexual. Magic later revealed he had numerous sexual partners throughout his playing career.
His announcement showed people that no one is exempt from this horrible disease. It opened peoples eyes about the dangers of HIV and AIDS. Magic was among the NBA's elite and that anyone, no matter how rich and famous, could get this disease.
Despite contracting HIV, Johnson was voted into the All-Star game in 1992. Karl Malone argued that Johnson should not play because every player would be at risk of getting HIV. Even with people getting more and more educated about HIV and AIDS after Magic's announcement, people were still ignorant. Even Magic's own teammates, A.C. Green and Byron Scott, didn't want him to play. But Magic still played and showed people that people with HIV and AIDS can still lead a normal life.
Flash forward 20 years later, many strides have been taken in HIV and AIDS medication and sufferers are living longer lives and Magic is alive and well and inspiring people worldwide stricken with HIV and AIDS. HIV and AIDS, although still a fatal disease, is no longer a quick death sentence and Magic is a testament to that.
To me, Magic Johnson is a hero.