This Day in Black Sports History: February 9, 1992

Figuratively speaking, November 7, 1991 was the day the magic died in the National Basketball Association.

Named by ESPN as the seventh most memorable moment in the past 25 years, Earvin Johnson, Jr., more affectionately known as “Magic,” held a press conference to announce his retirement after testing positive for HIV.

The announcement devastated not only the Los Angeles Lakers franchise, who Johnson guided to five NBA Championships in the 1980’s, but the national and international basketball community, where he had become a beloved figure.

Prior to his announcement, the AIDS virus was associated with drug addicts and homosexuals, but Johnson acknowledged that he was infected through having multiple sexual partners during his playing career.

The virus was also widely viewed as an impending death knell to those with the misfortune of being infected, instantly turning them into social pariahs.

But it was only fitting that “Magic” began the process of destroying these stereotypes with a virtuoso performance that transcended the game.

Even with one of its brightest stars permanently on the shelf, the 1991-92 NBA season commenced according to schedule. Nevertheless, Johnson’s on-court brilliance and magnetic personality remained firmly implanted in the hearts and minds of basketball fans worldwide.

Despite not playing in a single regular season game, Johnson was voted on to the Western Conference starting lineup for the 1992 All-Star Game, his 12th selection and the former three-time Most Valuable Player humbly elected to participate.

Former teammates and opponents weren’t reluctant to voice concerns and objections about Johnson’s presence, but most relented with assurances that it didn’t present a risk and, by the end of the game, no one was upset that he was on the roster.

And how could they be?

By keeping...

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