No Magic Cure
On Nov. 7, 1991, Magic Johnson became the most famous person to announce that he was HIV-positive. Since then he has not only used his celebrity to fight AIDS by raising awareness and money (more than $6 million to organizations throughout the country), but also coped admirably with HIV by continuing to pursue a full, even outsized, life. He starred for the Dream Team in the '92 Olympics, opened a chain of movie theaters in inner cities, launched a brief comeback with the Lakers, unveiled a line of athletic shoes, signed with Fox to develop his own syndicated talk show, toured the world playing for the Magic Johnson All-Stars, and, with wife Cookie, adopted their second child, Elisa. The indomitable and upbeat Magic has asserted time and again: I'm going to beat AIDS.
But now Cookie has gone a step further: She claims Magic has beaten it. "The Lord has definitely healed Earvin," she says in the April issue of Ebony. "There is no virus left in his blood." Magic was slightly more circumspect about his condition when approached by KCBS-TV in Los Angeles. "If it wasn't for the Lord's blessing," he said, "I wouldn't be as healthy as I am now."
Since Johnson's diagnosis, there have been significant advances in the medication used to treat AIDS. Combinations of drugs that include protease inhibitors, which serve to shut down HIV reproduction, have reduced the viral load to infinitesimal amounts in some patients. That appears to be the case with Magic, who is being treated by virologist David I [o, one of the pioneers in the use of protease inhibitors, and other specialists at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center in New York. "They think it's the medicine," Cookie told Ebony. "We claim it in the name of Jesus."
But while HIV may not be detected in the bloodstream, it may still lurk in other parts of the body. And until doctors are certain no HIV remains in Magic and tell him he can stop taking his medication, it will be premature to pronounce him healed. The Johnsons' faith is obviously deep and their outlook inspiring. But given Magic's visibility, their words may lead people to believe too soon that the virus is eradicable. "There's no reason to jump up and down and celebrate," says Sidney Ho, David's brother and the operations manager at Aaron Diamond. "It worries us that people think it's manageable, that it'll just go away. As far as we know, the virus doesn't just go away."
Fish Gotta Fly
A week after former President George Bush's triumphant parachute jump, a sky dive by another public figure went tragically awry. Billy the Marlin, the Florida Marlins' long-billed, maniacally grinning piscatorial mascot, was decapitated at 6,000 feet while attempting to parachute into Pro Player Stadium in Miami on April 1 as part of the Marlins' Opening Day festivities. Well, actually, a U.S. Navy SEAL dressed as Billy had the head of his costume ripped away by a gust of wind. The quick-thinking SEAL altered his descent to land outside the stadium; meanwhile, another Billy took his place inside. As of Monday the head was still missing, and the Marlins were offering a reward for anyone who brings it in.
SEAL parachutist Lou Langlais, who took part in the Opening Day sky dive, contends that the leap should never have been attempted, noting that a head like Billy's "isn't meant for jumping out of airplanes." Says Langlais, "That is a really unruly head. It's too big. It catches too much air in that big, huge mouth."
Unmasking the MVP
The last goalie to win the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player was the Montreal Canadiens' Jacques Plante in 1962. It's time for that streak to end: The worthiest candidates for the Hart this year are Dominik Hasek of the Buffalo Sabres, who at week's end was averaging 32.4 saves a game, and Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils, whose goals-against average of 1.89 would be the league's best since 1973-74.