The original man love pic. I guess now we know why Isiah avoided the lips...
As you may or may not know, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson have "co-written" a book together. (That is, they probably did a lot of talking while author Jackie MacMullen did the actual writing.) It's called When The Game Was Ours
, and it comes out on November 4th. However, it's already making headlines...by making Isiah Thomas want to kick Magic's ass
. The two main points of contention are:1. Isiah spread rumors that Magic was gay or bisexual...or so Magic believes:
Remember back in 1991 when Magic tested positive for HIV and had to retire? Magic's agent Lon Rosen claims Isiah told him: "I keep hearing Magic is gay." When Rosen reminded Isiah that the two men were friends and that Isiah knew him better than anyone, Isiah allegedly replied, "I know, but I don't know what he's doing when he's out there in L.A." In the book, Magic responds to this story by saying, "Isiah kept questioning people about it. I couldn't believe that. The one guy I thought I could count on had all these doubts. It was like he kicked me in the stomach.''2. Magic (along with Michael Jordan) co-blocked Isiah from making the 1992 Olympic Dream Team:
Said Magic: "Isiah killed his own chances when it came to the Olympics. Nobody on that team wanted to play with him. ... Michael didn't want to play with him. Scottie [Pippen] wanted no part of him. Bird wasn't pushing for him. Karl Malone didn't want him. Who was saying, 'We need this guy?' Nobody.''
You can kind of see how this happened, right? Magic hears that Isiah might kinda-sorta wonder whether he's gay in 1991, because science at that time had proven that only homosexuals and junkies got AIDS. When he hears what Isiah might have kinda-sorta said, Magic gets pissed but doesn't say anything, because it's uncomfortable to address rumors that your best friend thinks you might want to put his penis in your mouth. When 1992 rolls around and it's time for him to stand behind Isiah's inclusion on the Dream Team, Magic exacts his revenge by helping to keep one of the best point guards of all time off the greatest team of all time. And now, after all these years, Magic decides "clears the air" in a book about his rivalry with Larry Bird. Without telling Isiah in advance.
Sounds pretty fifth grade, right?
There's only one problem with Magic's claims and assumptions. Isiah denies questioning Magic's sexuality, mostly because his own brother, Gregory Thomas, had HIV. Said Thomas: "What most people don't know is, before Magic had HIV, my brother had HIV. My brother died of HIV, AIDS, drug abuse. So I knew way more about the disease, because I was living with it in my house.''
You know what this reminds me of? More fifth grade stuff. You have two best friends (Magic and Isiah) and one bitter enemy to both of them (Bird). Only, by some strange twist of fate, one of the bosom buddies (Magic) becomes friends with the enemy (Bird). Suddenly, the other bosom buddy (Isiah) is on the outside looking in...and wondering what in the hell happened. But of course boys don't talk about their feelings, so the two former friends just drift apart. By 8th grade (or in this case almost two decades later), one former friend (Isiah) finally hears through the grapevine (or in this case a book prepared for mass distribution) that his old buddy thinks all kinds of bad things about him based on stuff that may not even be true.
Here are some of Isiah's responses to all this. Regarding the Dream Team cock-block:
"I'm glad that he's finally had the nerve and the courage to stand up and say it was him, as opposed to letting Michael Jordan take the blame for it all these years. I wish he would have had the courage to say this stuff to me face to face, as opposed to writing it in some damn book to sell and he can make money off it.''
Regarding the "I said Magic's gay" rumors:
"Magic acted and responded off some really bad information that he got. Whatever friendship we had, I thought it was bulls--- that he believed that. Let me put it to you this way: If he and I were such close friends, if I was questioning his sexuality, then I was questioning mine too. That's how idiotic it is.
"They weren't going to let Magic play in the All-Star Game; all the players were coming out [against him]. You know how that all got turned around? I had a meeting with all of the players -- because I was president of the players' association -- and I told them not only was he going to play, but we were going to shake his hand and give him a hug. And I was the first to shake his hand and hug him and give him a kiss, to let people know that's not how the virus is spread. And you can go back and check at the players' association. Call Charlie Grantham [the former union executive director and COO] and ask him how Magic got to play in the All-Star Game. Ask him who called the meeting.
"I don't discriminate. I don't believe any race or ethnic group or social group should be discriminated against, because I have been discriminated against, and I know it would be wrong for me to discriminate. I think Magic has been misled on a lot of things, and unfortunately this has been another one of them. I am hurt and disappointed that he has chosen to believe others as opposed to his closest friends. And I think you can go back and look in that era and see who his closest friends were, and who his closest friends are now. At that time, I don't consider Lon Rosen to be one of his closest friends; he was one of his business advisers making money off him."
Believe it or not, I feel a little bad for Isiah. The dude has been having a pretty rough decade or so. Misfortune and tragedy -- much of it self-imposed -- have dogged him at every turn. If you think about it, this all started in 1987 when he said that if Larry Bird was black he's be just another good player. Then, after a couple championships, he walked off the court without congratulating the Bulls after the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Then he bombed as Toronto's GM. Then there was the CBA debacle. Then Larry Bird fires him as coach of the Indiana Pacers. Years later, he gets fired again after almost destroying the New York Knicks. Then he allegedly tries to commit suicide and says it was actually his daughter who did it. Now this.
Bad times all around.
It's hard to blame 1991 Magic Johnson for being upset. After all, back then being diagnosed with HIV was like a death sentence. And, frankly, it was easy to believe that Isiah would say something stupid like "I don't know what he's doing when he's out there in L.A." in light of his previous comments about Bird. And yeah, maybe he was too emotionally wrung out to deal with it by the time the original Dream Team was being put together. I get all that. What I don't get is why it's taken Magic -- who's healthy and has seemingly long since come to terms with his HIV-positive status -- so long to speak up. And, really, he should have told Isiah directly before putting it into a book that's not even about Isiah.
But if The Magic Hour
taught us anything, it's that Magic doesn't always make the best decisions. Oh well. I guess it's better to have man-loved and lost...than to have never man-loved at all.Update!
I had to add this comment from BleedingHeartPessimist
: "I can just picture Larry Bird, sitting in his Birdcave, looking at a giant flow chart entitled "Plan to Destroy Isiah and Magic", crossing off another box, and chuckling to himself."Update again!
More high comedy from Hilary
Michael Jordan probably saw it as Magic letting him take credit, not the fall.
Top Secret Meeting of Dream Team Players
Magic: He's not my BFF anymore. That is so 1990.
Larry: I never liked him either.
Karl Malone: Speaking of manlove, if he gets on, my basketball other half is probably going to be left off. Down with Isiah!
Charles Barkley and Scottie Pippen: We vote however Michael says, and everyone knows how he froze Michael out during that All-Star game.
Jordan: I want him off the team, too, but on one condition.
Jordan: He thinks I'm the one behind everything. He gets to sit at home all summer and think about how if he would have acknowledged my greatness, he could have been on the greatest team ever. The biggest mistake anyone can ever make is not acknowledging my greatness, you know. And I never forget, and I will dedicate the rest of my life to humiliating anyone foolish enough to motivate me by -- anyone got a pen? This is good stuff, and I want to save it for my hall of fame induction speech.
Malone: Make sure John gets to be the other point guard, and he'll make up something about wanting to be brought into the hall of fame by another small dominant guard so Isiah can be there in person when you make the hall of fame speech!
Labels: AIDS, feuds, HIV, Isiah Thomas, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, man love