When Earvin “Magic” Johnson played basketball for the Los Angeles Lakers, he was undoubtedly one of the most popular public figures in Southern California — arguably the most popular. His skill, his charm, and his success on and off the basketball court made him a superstar, and his work in the community made him a hero. In an era where most athletes become heroes with feet of clay, Magic was almost literally in a league of his own. When he had to suddenly retire because of a diagnoses of an HIV infection, there may not have been a dry eye in Southern California, and mine were no exception — and I’m not that big of a basketball fan. Magic transcended his sport in LA, and maybe throughout the nation.
The Lakers paid a visit to the White House yesterday, and Barack Obama singled out Magic for some praise. But considering Magic’s very public involvement with HIV research and treatment, including his own open fight against the disease, perhaps Obama could have found another way of praising Magic (emphasis mine):
We are obviously honored to have one of the all-time greats in NBA history, Magic Johnson. (Applause.) Magic did pretty well during his time with the Lakers. He wasn’t bad. (Laughter.) And now a new generation is continuing his legacy. But obviously part of what makes Magic special wasn’t just how he played on the court, but also just the infectious enthusiasm about life and what he’s now doing with businesses and minority communities. He’s just been an outstanding leader in our country for a long time.
This caused Major Garrett of Fox News to put out this message on Twitter:
Ahem. Obama salutes Magic Johnson & his “infectious enthusiasm” during East Room event hailing World Champs.
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Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!