Ed. Note: Sorry for the pun. It's been so long since I've written an article, I'm out of shape.
Let's take a trip back in history... all the way back to November 7th, 1991, a day that shook the basketball world at its very core. Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, soon after learning that he had contracted HIV, announced his retirement, effective immediately. A dark day for fans, not just of the Lakers, but of basketball in general. Even Celtics fans, who hated the Lakers on the court, would have been saddened at this horrific news.
In the Dark Ages of knowledge about this terrible disease, it was assumed by many that Magic Johnson's death was imminent, that he would only have a matter if years to live.
But Magic overcame it all, and overcame many of the misconceptions of the HIV/AIDS virus in the process.
EDIT: Magic turned 51 today. I don't know how I forgot to mention that.
Not only did he overcome it, he lived one of the most successful lives of virtually any ex-athlete with it. He returned in 1992 to play for both the USA Basketball Dream Team in the Olympics, ensuring that the greatest team ever assembled had the greatest floor general to ever play running the point, as well as playing in the All Star Game and being voted All-Star Game MVP in that same year.
But his exploits off the court are most remarkable of all. A pre-eminent voice in HIV/AIDS awareness, Magic was appointed to President Bush's National Commission on AIDS, as well as taking part in significant fundraising pursuits for the disease, and co-authoring a book 'What Can You Do to Prevent AIDS'.
He has shone out as a beacon in the LA community, with his Magic Johnson 24-hour Fitness Centres being a part of the city landscape; not to mention his other business exploits; including his minority share in the very Franchise he helped re-establish as dominant, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Johnson's wealth has been estimated at approximately $800-900 million. Simply mind-boggling. He is undoubtedly far-and-away the richest ex-NBA player. Even more amazing considering he only earned approximately $25 million throughout his playing career.
Off the court, Magic's exploits are legendary. His exploits on the court are unparalleled for a man of his position. The 6'9" point man in the Showtime Era, Magic is held by many to be the Greatest Laker of All Time, and him and Larry Bird essentially saved the NBA with their rivalry in the '80s.
It's easy to see why.
Happy Birthday, Magic.