Bill Simmons on Magic Johnson
With basketball mogul Donald Sterling in the news for hatefully and irrationally objecting to his mistress publicly appearing without him in her Instagram photos with slugger Matt Kemp and beloved HIV-positive role model Magic Johnson, it`s worth taking a look at what Bill Simmons, editor of ESPN`s Grantland website, has to say about Magic. From Simmons` The Book of Basketball:
[In the late 1980s,] off the court, [Magic] emulated Jordan`s marketing savvy and reinvented himself as a commercial pitchman and celebrity, even launching a Rat Pack of sorts with Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall *…
*Footnote: Eddie: Sinatra; Magic: Dean; Arsenio: Sammy. I always thought The Black Pack would be a great documentary: they were on top of the world for four years, then Magic got HIV, Eddie`s career went in the tank and Arsenio had financial problems. And that`s just the start of it. I`d say more, but my legal team just electroshocked me.
… And just like that, he became the face of HIV: November 7, 1991. …
After riding high for fifteen years and getting the “magic” carpet pulled from under him, poor Earvin spent the next decade hanging around like Wooderson from Dazed and Confused. *
*Footnote: GQ`s Charles Pierce believed that Magic and alter ego Earvin battled like Superman and Bizarro Superman. Earvin had a longtime girlfriend named Cookie; Magic cheated on her relentlessly. Earvin had an illegitimate son; Magic carried on like the boy didn`t exist. Earvin was a shrewd investor who tripled his NBA income off the court; Magic behaved like a college kid on spring break. Post-HIV Earvin educated everyone about his virus; post-HIV Magic bragged about his earlier, wilder ways.
… He wasted a curious amount of time squashing rumors about his sexuality, even releasing a 1993 autobiography colored with tales about his (very hetero!) escapades and shamelessly plowing through the talk show circuit as “the (very hetero!) stud who banged so many chicks that he ended up with HIV, which means this could happen to you as well!” (Important note: This relentless campaign inadvertently hampered the sex lives of all red-blooded American males between the ages of eighteen and forty for the next eight years. For the first four years, everyone was terrified to have unprotected sex unless they were s***faced drunk. For the next four, the guys weren`t terrified but the girls still were, although it`s possible that they were just out of shape and didn`t want us to see them naked. Then the Paris Hilton / Britney Spears era happened, women got in shape and started dressing more provocatively, we figured out you had a better chance of winning the lottery than getting HIV from conventional sex, and it became a sexual free-for-all. Of course, I was married by then. Awesome. Thanks for ruining my twenties, Magic.) Did we really need to know about his elevator trysts, threeseomes and foursomes, or bizarre philosophy about cheating on longtime girlfriend Cookie? *
*Footnote: The philosophy: If his one-night stand didn`t share his bed all night, the event was somehow okay. I wish I had thought of this rule in college. Wait, why am I making fun of this? Can`t the Supreme Court pass this as a law?
Was Magic educating America`s youth about HIV or affirming and reaffirming his heterosexuality. The lowest point: Magic appeared on Arsenio`s show right after the HIV announcement and was asked about his sexuality. Magic said that he wanted to make it clear, “I am not gay.” The crowd applauded like this was fantastic news …