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April 10th, 2012
10:21 AM ET

Magic Johnson on his HIV battle, and the Broadway show exploring his relationship with Larry Bird

It was one of the biggest rivalries in sports history. It started in their college years and went all the way to the pro court.

It was between the L.A. Lakers's Earvin "Magic" Johnson and the Boston Celtics's Larry Bird.

Between the two of them, they won eight NBA titles and six MVPs. The rivalry produced a video game, commercials, a tear-jerking documentary and now a new play - "Magic/Bird" - which opens on Broadway tomorrow. It's about how they went from being each other's biggest competitors to best friends.

Zoraida sits down with Magic to talk about the play, his legendary career and his off-court battle with HIV. He also weighs in on the controversy over the Trayvon Martin case, and the outpouring of support from current NBA players.

Filed under: Basketball • Entertainment • Trayvon Martin
soundoff (51 Responses)
  1. Poetry

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    May 1, 2012 at 7:57 am | Reply
  2. Ms.Kissy

    It does not matter what a person race is or the status of what they are worth. Justice needs to be served in this case. If it was a family member of yours or someone you knew personally you would want justice. Be very mindful that a young man who was not given a chance to even live his life. George Zimmerman should have stayed in his car and none of this would have happened. We would not be on this site or having these conversations we all must abide by rules. George was told to stay in his car by law inforcement. "If you don't stand for something you will fall for anything."

    April 11, 2012 at 9:21 am | Reply
  3. AS

    We don't really know what had happened or will we ever know until Trayvon comes back to life. It is unfortunate that police did not arrest Zimmerguy and hold him until trial. If he proves that he is acting on self-defense, then he is free. Blacks can start a riot and loot all the stores after the verdict. Just like Rodney King trial.

    April 11, 2012 at 8:59 am | Reply
  4. Ricardo

    Innocent of murdering an unarmed teenager who DID NOT break into your home? Zimmerman isnt a cop and had no right to even approach this young kid, Magic has plenty of money and does not need to bow down to advertisers or business partners, money isnt everything atleast there are some people who still will not sell their souls or compliance for any amount, lol @ Magic learning a lesson lol you should learn from him.. im sure hes doing alot better in life than you.. even with HIV.

    April 11, 2012 at 6:05 am | Reply
  5. XDJX

    Well we know Trayvon was murdered by George Zimmerman. Enough said.

    April 11, 2012 at 1:33 am | Reply
  6. SallyinChicago

    Shame on both of you Braves2 and Jim Beam. Mr. Johnson (yes! Mr. Johnson) can say and think what he wants. He's just expressing what a lot of people think.

    April 11, 2012 at 12:33 am | Reply
  7. kamau

    how can an oppressed group in a domestic colonalistsituation be racist?They have no power at all and are on the bottom economically.Braves 2 u seem to have a problem with being "half black" as u said.you're probably just waiting for your chance to get at a teenager young brother.

    April 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Reply
  8. Darlene Baysa

    The evidences speaks volume. I'm Black! Zimmerman chase that kid down and murdered him. Who are you to advise Magic Johnson?

    April 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Reply
  9. jeremy45

    I dont understand why magic johnson hasn't died from aids. I don't understand why you can't shot a white person and law enforcement is cool with it. Money and self defense law and your immortal.

    April 10, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Reply
    • Auth

      People are becoming inicsaerngly comfortable lately in ignoring the rights of other people, but especially the rights of blacks. There is always racism and will always be, but it seems that this century has brought out a nastiness and a boldness in some people which allows them to say and do whatever they wish, no matter how illegal, unethical or un-Christian. We are all people of this world and no matter what his color, Travon Martin should not be dead today. The mentality that created slavery will never be over; they just get more creative in denying us, trying to keep us down, or killing us. God Bless the family of Travon Martin who have to deal with yet another senseless killing.

      June 22, 2012 at 2:23 am | Reply
  10. John Ashton

    Love you Magic Man

    April 10, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  11. simply me

    Big surprise...a black celebrity is outraged.

    April 10, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Reply
  12. BY willia

    When you Magic Johnson you can always say how you really feel, not what others thin you should say.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  13. Disappointed

    I read the comments on all stories just to see how people in this society thinks. I am very appalled about the comments I read. Everyone keeps saying wait for the facts. There are very important FACTS. Fact 1: The Sanford Police Department tried to sweep this killing under the rug. Fact 2: The Sanford Police Department had Trayvon's phone while his parents thought he was missing. Fact 3: Zimmerman was not a cop, a bounty hunter, or an off duty cop, he was head of neighborhood watch. That's it. This is not about black or white...........this is about right and wrong.

    April 10, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Reply
  14. Nashdog

    Braves2: You can half say it. LOL

    April 10, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  15. pjm

    Magic is his own man and that is why he was a great ball player, was and is a great success in business and now is part owner of one of the most valuable franchises in all of sports. I have no doubt the Magic's business partners continue to have the greatest respect for Magic - which he has earned. So Magic will and should continue to speak his truth.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  16. Moving1

    That is what wrong with this nation, you can disagree with some views and shouldn't have to loose business or love/respect. As long is this great nation continue to see everything through black and white camera, we will fail. What do you think, he is a black man, and he should say, Zimmerman was correct in shooting the kid. Also, you just confirmed your statement, you are half black. i wonder what side of your brain speaking? just a thought.....You can't say most blacks are insecured. History tell it all. I am black lived country, and never felt this way until came here with yes! your own exprience often shapes how we feel. I bet you have lots of White friends,and grew up in one of those nice neighbourhood. But here you see i do not know that so , this point is stilly, and so when folk draw their opinion, it not becuse of if they hate White of blacks, but own exprience, and that is the true indicator of feelings. I never hate a white man until he treated me other than, and that is just that person.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Reply
  17. ajutah

    Okay guys, I felt he did the right thing. Either of you will not be armed, profile someone, and follow them thru your gated community. Especially someone who is either living or visiting there. You would call the ploice and standby. Zimmerman is the adult and is a coward, point blank! The kid was walking home AND NOT bothering anyone. Magic said, along with many others including me; "I have a son", which means it could have easily been him who this idiot decided to take matters way to far with. He took off afterwards because he knew how everyone would react. Bottom line up front. Kid walking home to his father's fiance's house, profiled by a zealous, armed adult who should have just backed off and let the police handle the matter. Kid's dead.

    April 10, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Reply
  18. john

    magic wouldn't be in trayvon's situation, magic would have had his aides go get him stuff from the market...

    April 10, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Reply
  19. Bob

    He did not say justice should be given to Trayvon. He said justice should be served.

    April 10, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  20. Say what?

    On the Travyon case, he should've kept his statements neutral. With even the FBI involved, if there were any mistakes, Zimmerman would be sitting in jail. At this point, unless there was a huge screw up in the investigation, charges against Zimmerman aren't likly unless the individuals conducting these investigations are worried about a huge backlash. I am getting pretty frustrated at the level of attention this has received considering no one really knows what happened fully and most are quick to pull the race. Justice should and am confident will be served based on facts not racial pressures. Best way to stop racism is to stop acknowledging everyone's race...

    April 10, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  21. Joe Blow

    I'm down with whatever Jim Beam is saying.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  22. ww

    If everybody and his mama can flap their gums over the Zimmerman case, so can Magic.

    April 10, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Reply
  23. jim beam

    ......if Magic wants to be the big businessman/spokesperson, he has a few lessons to learn; a la keep your big trap shut about issues that are controversial.

    The Trayvon case is a tragedy; however, the facts have been so distorted and clouded, none of us really knows what happened.

    I am sure Magic's Dodger partners were cringing re his decision to add fuel to this particular fire.

    If Magic wants to be the model for big businessman, he better take some more PR lessons because corporate sponsorship and advertising, etc., is the name of the game, and none want a spokeman that public take sides in a heated issue.

    If Magic wanted to speak on this, he should have simply left it with the comment about seeking a full and fair impartial investigation.

    How can he be such a knucklehead at this point, right after the Dodger's deal when they will be seeking wide corporate sponsorship's ? Knucklehead.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:41 am | Reply
    • Troy

      Being in his position he is required to give an honest answer to any question addressed to him no matter if you agree with it or not. If more corporate leaders and political figures reflected this trait this country would be further and better suited to deal realistically with issues as they arise. A politically correct answer is not truth and does not provoke others to ask the real questions that need to asked. In other words it does not promote dialog. As far as the knucklhead remark, he seems to have done pretty good for himself and to my knowledge has never side stepped a question. A quality trait of a leader. Take notice and maybe you can grow to be something in life.

      April 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Reply

      Interesting Jim Beam that you feel that Magic should have held his thoughts or his tongue on the questions leveled at him on this volatile situation! I did listen to the entire interview and found nothing that magic said that would jeopardize not only his position with potential corporate sponsorship or his position with his team! You are the knuckle head for reading more into this than what was communicated. Sure everyone wants to see closure with the outcome of this matter and it's not a Black or White thing (by the way George Zimmerman isn't a white man) but my point is that a child lost his life to a senseless act of violence to a wannabe self appointed neighborhood watchman. Which behooves me why he would be allowed to carry any weapon with his alleged criminal past or previous transgressions. So anyone wanting to cringe about his comments are themselves ashamed or have no value for human life. And yes justice and a through investigation should be conducted. George Zimmerman was the aggressor he was asked to stand down but continued to stalk this young man. Had he not this child would be alive today and George Zimmerman's life and that of his family would not be turned totally upside down all for what! A wannabe policeman who failed to make the cut if he wanted to guard something or was that much interested in carrying a gun he should have gone off to represent his country on the front line in it's alleged war against terrorism, or could have gone to protect the border in the alleged fight against drugs and illegal undocumented aliens entering this country. Do your home work before spouting off. This way your ignorance or bigotry doesn't rear it's ugly head.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
    • Ms. Carolyn Jones

      Magic has the right to say whatever he wants to say, just because he is a big businessman, and a all around basketball player does not mean he cannont voice his opionion. People kill me thinking they can run everybody life because they are some big time news man or someone rich, No you don't get to do that God made Magic in the image he wanted him to be and he is his own man he has a father that as you can see taught him morals and respect and again that's the only person who can tell his SON what to do and his mother as well so stop trying to be the boss over everyone's life and tell them what when they should speak and how they should speak. Magic speak God made you not man.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • gennie1

      Jealous just admit it you want what he has let go of your pride.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • john

      This grown man might be innocent but the fact that he was not held in jail where,like everyone else, he would have to post a bond and stand trial smacks of an system that is broken.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Reply
    • Robb

      That man can say what ever he wants to say. He have freedom of speech just like the rest of us. Go some where and go to sleep.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Reply
    • Buddy

      I say it's about time that a black athlete get involved in a controversial issue. They are so worried about there image that they are forgetting that golden rule WANT FOR YOUR BROTHER WHAT YOU WANT FOR YOURSELF. We need more Jim Brown's out there so maybe these Trayvone shootings that are becoming more common will cease.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Reply
    • Cooki

      Are you crazy or something? Oh Jim beam, just drunk. Just because someone walks down the street looking suspicious doesn't mean that a person has a right to get out of their car and shoot them. Zimmerman is getting away with murder because his father is a judge. It's just like Joran van der Sloot. His father was a judge and he got killing Natalee Holloway and because of that, he was able to kill again. Darn shame how our judicial system is so messed up.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Reply
    • TruthMatters

      First of all, you call Magic a knucklehead at the same time saying that he is a part owner of a 2 billion dollar deal to buy the Dodgers. I doubt that if you really looked at Magic's business decisions over the last 20 years and his business tactics you would not call him a knucklehead. So, that is an absolutely ignorant statement. Magic could speak on the situation just as you can because this is called the United States of America, not the United States of Certain People. So, there is nothing wrong with him saying as much as he wants to about this tragic situation. He is right when he says the black community has seen this over and over again. You first have to check the history of the great country and see the true oppression, lynchings and mental abuse that has taken place towards people of color. Facts Not Fiction. Did he take sides specifically about the case? No, he stated his feelings about the outrage that has taken place. You are just upset because he is a very liked, known personality that is expressing true feelings about the racial divide that exists. The facts are this – Trayvon is buried in the ground, George Zimmerman has not been arrested, George Zimmerman was carrying a weapon, Trayvon did not have anything but skittles and ice-t. Point blink. That is not distorted. Read the police report, get true information about what has happened on a daily basis to people before you call anyone a knucklehead or give a guy who has been an awesome representative of a US citizen in terms of his basketball career and business career any type of advice. I ask you, what is your position and/or business acumen to call Magic Johnson a knucklehead? Who jumped to conclusions about Magic Johnson after hearing a 5 minute interview when he has spoken and done more than you and me and millions of others in his lifetime. Now ask yourself who is the knucklehead?

      April 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      Is Magic Johnson, in America yes he is and as a result he is allowed to share his opinion like you are. So Jim, instead of being hypocrit and telling LA to shut it. How about keeping you respect others opinions or receive none for yours.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Reply
    • YogerTheOgre

      Ther was nothing wrong with Magic's statement. I felt he played it safe and did not take sides. He did not speak out against the agressor zimmerman, but did show compassion and empathy for the grieving family. Nothing wrong with that at all. He was asked the question and he answered it quite politely and heartfelt. Looks like you are reaching for some negativity a bit, don't you?

      April 10, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  24. Braves2

    Magic says there should be a thorough investigation, good point. But at the same time he says – Justice should be given to Trayvon. Why not Zimmerman? I am not saying Zimm is innocent, maybe he is – maybe he is not. But investigations says he is, atleast until now. I am half black, and I can say black people are the most insecured of the lot. A bit racist too.

    April 10, 2012 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • idriss tchokogue

      I agree with you at 100% percent.

      April 10, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    • Rob

      I wonder what would happen if I shot someone in FL and I said they attacked me (Im black & Asian and live in FL btw) – Do you think they would do thier due diligence before they let me go? Just asking. I know there has been some hub bub about this case that is not warranted as the investigation needs to be complete before we just go blindly and say someone is guilty – but dont you think they should have performed a thorough investigation from the beginning since this is a case in which someone died. Also, if there was no hub bub about this case it would have been looked over and there would be no special investigator or DOJ or FBI involved. Also Im concerned about the supposed facts in this case that the media keeps putting out there – on both sides of the issue. I am not beliveing anything until official reports come out. This case was botched by Sanford police and noone can tell me there was no prejudging occurring when the investigation started and If I were a betting man I would say Zimmerman mentioned to the police his father's job his mothers job and that he was involved in previous police traing to tip the scale with Sanford PD initially.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
    • Woods

      Braves2 – You mention that your half Black and that "Black people are the most insecured of the lot." I bet the mortgage that even though one of your parents is black you were raised as white.

      April 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Reply

      You are an idiot so you believe you're half black? No ninja you're black! You need to investigate further your heritage and do a genealogy on your family and see what you come up with? Then come back to this forum and speak about why Black people tend to be what you reference as being insecure! Then understand the mechanics of what is deemed as racism or as you so happily put it "a bit racist".

      April 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm | Reply
    • Buddy

      Well we have had a 400 year example of how to perfect racism from your white half's ancestry, so yeah we should have a little chip on our shoulder don't you think, of course I am talking to your black half now.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • Cooki

      John White, a black man, went to jail when three white teens drove up to his home and walked up to his driveway threatening his son. How are blacks racist? We're not "insecured" as you've stated. We're sick and tired of not having equal rights. Go back to school; educate yourself. If you don't know what you're talking about, shut up.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Reply
    • Also brave

      Black people have also had to endure the most. We should be lifting people up not calling each other names.

      April 10, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Reply
      • Jadie

        You are correct that as a people, black people have had to endure more than most people. However, they need to move past this. While there are many areas of the country where blacks are still not treated fairly, it goes both ways. Most murders that happen to black people are by other black people. Not white people. Not Hispanics. The people who succeed in this life are the ones that don't let anything keep them down. They are able to rise out of the worst situations and win. I also agree with Brave2. No one really knows the truth of what happened that night, but they have already acted as judge and jury to Zimmerman. As more evidence comes out we may find he truly was defending himself. Even so, that also does not make him innocent. He should have listened to the dispatcher and not followed Trayvon. We may find out that neither of them is innocent, only that a life was cut tragically short. I personally will be praying for both families and for that community.

        April 11, 2012 at 9:48 am |
      • Cooki

        And murders against white people are commited by white people. And why is it that people are always saying that blacks play the race card and they need to get over it? That's like telling a Jewish person to get over the Holocaust.

        There is no justification for any person to be shot just because they looked suspicious.

        April 12, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • lib

      What do you mean, Blacks are insecure and racist???? Maybe you need to shut up your white side. Have you not kept up with the news in this country as to how many Blacks are murdered by so called law enforcers? Magic Johnson, President Obama and EVERY black in this country has a right to comment on the Trayvon Martin story.

      April 10, 2012 at 10:46 pm | Reply
    • YogerTheOgre

      Then you must have it honestly on both sides. Poor guy...

      April 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm | Reply
    • NA

      Magic never said that we need justice for Trayvon, he said "they [referring to the family] need justice, in whichever way that is" and said that we need the truth to come out.

      As to what the investigation says about Zimmerman's innocence...of course it "says" he's innocent. Someone in the U.S. is innocent until PROVEN guilty, even if he is indicted he'd be innocent unless he is eventually convicted. A part of me does feel for Zimmerman, because of that ridiculous law, and because of the seemingly botched up investigation Zimmerman seems guilty, it seems like there was a cover-up, it seems like the cops are hiding something...If Zimmerman isn't charged, it'll always seem like something has been covered up.

      April 11, 2012 at 1:18 am | Reply
    • Philies1

      Either the half that is not black wrote this post or you have serious issues about your mixed race heritage. As a 100% black female, I take exception to your statement that black people are the most insecure of the lot. I know most non-blacks feel we are over sensitive about race issues and pull the "race card" about any and everything, but until you've actually walked a mile in our shoes, maybe you should just keep your mouth closed. Many of us have relatives who remember a time when a white man could kill a black man and no one would care or prosecute the white man. If the black man's family protested too much, they may find themselves hanging from a tree while whites had picnics around the base of the tree where the body was hanging. That's actually the origin of the word picnic, but it's been shortened. It was pick a n***a (nword). They would pick a nword hang him and the whites would sit around having a good time eating and socializing while they watched the black man or woman or child they hanged die at the end of a rope We just want to make sure that mess won't ever happen again! And if that means that some of you have to listen to what you feel is our moaning about nothing, well, we really don't give a flip! I hope the black half of your family has a really long talk with you. You have a lot to learn. You must not look black at all because you would be more concerned about finding yourself out late at night with a handful of skittles and someone like Zimmerman following YOU!

      April 11, 2012 at 3:16 am | Reply
      • Elizabeth Mayo

        Not sure where you got that definition for picnic, but it's absolutely not true: http://www.snopes.com/language/offense/picnic.asp

        April 11, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
      • Todd

        picnic "really" your moms told you a lie and your so ignorant you believed it, sad

        April 11, 2012 at 4:25 pm |

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