"Black athletes forget their neighborhoods," says Magic. "They forget where they came from. They take their millions and move to the suburbs, but if they'd just invest in our own neighborhoods, they'd make more money there than anywhere else!"
Can you imagine the kind of change we'd see in the ghettos if a certain slick-headed former Chicago Bull would follow Magic's lead? "Oh, my God," says Magic. "Michael really would own the world then."
No, HIV hasn't killed Magic Johnson. In a sense the virus has been a gift to him. And to us. "It sounds funny," he says, "but it's been a joy. I've been able to teach and help people."
He opens his theaters to health seminars. At his Starbucks he has pamphlets that remind customers that AIDS is the No. 1 killer of American black women aged 25 to 44, that blacks suffer the highest mortality rate for breast cancer. (His sister-in-law, Shirley Johnson, is a two-time survivor.) He gives away 30,000 toys a year, arranges for computer systems to be set up at community centers, answers hundreds of HIV/AIDS-related letters a week. He always was good with an assist.
Sports is leaving this century in the world's slowest parade, marched to a dirge, in the worst kind of luxury box. But, thank God, Magic Johnson is alive. "No, Magic is dead," he says with that 10,000-candle smile. "They call me Mister Johnson now."
So nice to see you, Mr. Johnson.