A few months ago, ESPN aired a documentary directed by Nelson George called The Announcement. I just had an opportunity to watch this. If you missed it, this is highly recommended viewing for basketball fans, students of sports history and most importantly Magic fans.
Full disclosure…I am a huge NBA basketball fan. While I am much less enamoured with today’s players, I remain a lover of the game. Today, I am a die-hard Knicks fan, which I can finally admit publicly instead of suffering alone in silence. But waaaaay back in the day I was a Lakers fan and more specifically a Magic fan. I was the kid who wore Magic’s number 32 on every one of my jerseys, no matter what sport I was competing in. I was the kids who bought the life-sized Magic standee, that went from my room at home to my room in college to my office at work…and now occupies a prominent corner in my office at home. I bought Magic’s shoes. I was a REAL Magic fan. During the Magic era it was all about Showtime for me. Which of course at that time meant that I hated the Celtics. Which is funny, because I had so loved earlier Celtics teams. But that is a conversation for another day…
There are days in your life that you vividly remember, like they happened yesterday. One of the biggest days from the sports highlights reel of my life was when as a kid I briefly met Magic. He made an appearance at the McDonald’s where I was woking at the time, which was owned by an ex-pro athlete from another sport who just happened to be his friend. I still have the grainy picture that I took of him with my instamatic camera. Another highlight, as an adult, was making it to the Forum to see a Lakers game. It was as big a deal to me then as going to MSG is now. Some arenas are just MAGIC. This was certainly the case for me, as even from deep in the nosebleed seats it was special. I still have the purple Lakers sweatshirt that I bought that day, even though sadly it will probably never fit again.
Another unforgettable day for me was November 7, 1991, the day that Magic announced that he was leaving the Lakers because he was HIV positive. I was working in New York at the time. This was before the internet, so the news spread around the office the old fashioned way…Girl, did you hear the news about Magic? I was done. I closed the door to my office, as this was back in the day when people had offices with doors, and proceeded to fall to pieces. Very uncharacteristic for me, because I hate to cry, especially in public. I balled uncontrollably like someone had just killed my best friend. Because at that time, I like everyone was convinced this was a death sentence for Magic. I was so distraught that I had to leave the office and go home…I could not regain my composure…I could not function…I was a wreck.
Luckily, everyone was wrong about Magic’s fate. I was able to see him go on to compete so brilliantly in the All-Star game that year. I really hoped he would come back to basketball, but it was not meant to be. But I did get to see him compete on the Dream Team. Magic still is my hero, both from a sports and a business / entrepreneurial standpoint. And for me, there will never be another like him.