SI: Do you have a checklist that keeps you from taking yourself too seriously?
O.J.: My mother. The Bible. Do unto others. That's my basic philosophy. It is so simple. You treat everybody the way you want to be treated. Because I can run with a football—used to be able to run with a football—I'm making a fortune? I have my faults. Sometimes people close to me suffer from my celebrity and from my natural weaknesses, weaknesses that all men have. Fortunately, I've got my weaknesses under control. But I've gone through phases, not on a Magic [ Johnson] scale, certainly not on a Wilt Chamberlain scale, but on a minuscule scale.
SI: How do you think that Magic Johnson's testing HIV-positive has changed the attitudes of athletes?
O.J.: For the first time heterosexuals felt threatened by AIDS. Magic brought it home. I think those one-night stands—meeting a girl at a bar—will change. I think guys are going to be looking for more long-term relationships. If I was an active player today, especially a bachelor playing in the NBA, I would be really concerned.
SI: You're also living in the entertainment community, where there have been people who've not only tested HIV-positive but also died of AIDS. Why did Magic's revelation have a greater impact?
O.J.: You can admire Rocky, but in real life he's Sylvester Stallone. Your average Hollywood actors—it's hard to relate to what happens to them in their real lives. You like to read about it, you get a peek into it, but even that's not real to you. Magic is a real guy. What you see is what you get. He's not acting, he's not playing somebody else.
Seeing Magic's smile, I just dread the thought of seeing him like the girl [Kimberly Bergalis] who got the virus from her dentist. I could almost cry right now thinking about Magic looking like that.
Last spring I spent an evening at an affair for Lyle Alzado. I just sat there in tears. I was trying to relate to a guy who knows he's dying, and he was there to help others not make that mistake [taking anabolic steroids]. I've obviously made some mistakes, but they weren't earth-shattering. I wasn't going to die from them. I don't know how to relate to what Magic is going through and what Lyle went through.
SI: You're 45 years old. Have you come to terms with your own mortality?
O.J.: No. I'm currently going through a divorce. And I've been through one before. You tend to get introspective at times like that and wonder about people who have been in your life and how your life has evolved. I don't really see an end. I haven't really thought about the end, but I have thought about what I've done in my life and how I've related to people. And how much time I have to change.