Yesterday afternoon’s exciting launch of college basketball’s 2012 March Madness quickly turned into a sobering reality check last night.
ESPN Films premiered Nelson George’s documentary “The Announcement” about Earvin Magic Johnson’s stunning November 7, 1991 disclosure of contracting the HIV virus.
“The Announcement” deftly transports viewers from the shocking 1991 revelation of one of sports’ most revered stars, through Johnson’s fearful first steps following his public admission, to the Hall of Famer’s eventual emergence as a voice and face for combating the crippling disease.
Through his narrating voice, the film effortlessly shares Magic’s emotional journey and juxtaposes it with the public’s uneducated, confused and, at times, unbridled ignorance concerning the HIV virus and the deadly disease of AIDS. Johnson’s poignant remark during the 90 minute documentary that “you never think it could happen to you” serves as a cold, hard slap of admonition for anyone who believes that lifestyle choices do not have consequences.
Magic honestly shares that his unparalleled on-court success made him think he was immune from off-court repercussions, until a simple annual physical with the Los Angeles Lakers revealed the shocking news about his condition.
Personifying his very own words, “it;” i.e. HIV, unfortunately happened to him,inflicting a dreaded, seemingly untreatable scourge at the time upon the three time NBA MVP, five time NBA champion, twelve time NBA all star, NCAA champion, Olympic Gold Medalist, the perceived Prince of Los Angeles and a cross cultural basketball superstar beloved by all.
In spite of his basketball success, personal charisma, infectious smile and imposing 6’9″ frame, what has made Magic stand head and shoulders above most modern day heroes is that he immediately accepted responsibility for his own promiscuity and masterfully handled with grace, courage and aplomb the bleak consequences he suddenly faced twenty years ago.
Frightened and fearful, Magic forged ahead and unwittingly brought education to the national media about a disease most Americans embarrassingly whispered about or altogether ignored, fooling themselves like Magic that it could never happen to them either.
ESPN’s “The Announcement” is must see tv during this exciting time of March Madness for those interested in a provocative portrayal of an extraordinary individual who just happened to be one of the greatest basketball players to have ever played the game.
Straight talk. No static.
MIKE – aka Mike Raffone – thee ultimate talking head on sports!