30 years of a press conference that changed everything: No Magic Johnson AIDS would not have left those dark times

Michael Mellman, Doctor of Los Angeles Lakers, was one of the last ones that could cross a few words with Magic Johnson before he faced the microphones at the G

30 years of a press conference that changed everything: No Magic Johnson AIDS would not have left those dark times

Michael Mellman, Doctor of Los Angeles Lakers, was one of the last ones that could cross a few words with Magic Johnson before he faced the microphones at the Great Western Forum. Earvin just wanted that to finish as soon as possible. "Because of the HIV virus, I am forced to withdrawal," he released the great rank of basketball. It was the announcement of the end of innocence. It was three o'clock in the afternoon of November 7, 1991. "The press conference should not have celebrated that Thursday, but a few days later. However, the KFWB chain warned the team that they were going to throw the news that same night, So we should overtake the deadlines. So, in some way, everything was improvised. Those who participated in it did not even have a script, "Mellman recalls the world.

The doctor was one of the six people who first learned what no one would want to have ever known. In that hard core, Cookie (Earvin's wife), Lon Rosen (player agent), Jerry Buss (Lakers), Jerry West (Legend of the Franchise) and Gary Vitti (physical trainer). "His diagnosis was almost a coincidence," we learned about a blood test, within the framework of some tests for the insurance policy. In addition, his case was quite special, given that at that time the vast majority of patients who had positive had already been Developed AIDS. Magic, on the other hand, was not sick, "says mellman since his clinic in the second, very close to the Los Angeles airport.

In any case, for most American public opinion, that positive was a death sentence. The stars of the NBA, from Larry Bird to Michel Jordan, by Charles Barkley to Karl Malone, launched messages that sounded farewell. "At that time, life expectancy was around six months, of course there were patients who managed to survive something else, but we could not predict anything, the only medication Earvin could tell was the AZT. We knew that the treatment was going to take steps Go ahead, although we were not sure of the deadlines either, "Argumented Mellman, who exercised in Lakers from 1981 to 1995.

Magic, like any infected, not only had to face that countdown, but to the stigmas of a disease by then linked to drug addiction and homosexuality. Journalist Elliott Almond, who in 1991 worked for Los Angeles Times, points precisely towards this direction. "Many considered AIDS a gay disease. They formed a homophobic legion against which the incipient LGTB movement had to face. And it was not an abstract denomination, given that the scientific community, in general, had been slow to react. And This some slowness was due, in part, to homophobia, "says Almond to this newspaper.

If we focus only on official statistics, in 1991 the United States already encrypt its deceased by AIDS. The deaths of actor Rock Hudson (1985) and Leonard Matlovich (1988), a veteran of Vietnam who had explicitly explicit him on the cover of Time, convulsed the foundations of a reluctant society to look at the virus face to face. "Our country, for a series of political and social reasons, had not reacted as the rest of the world," says Mellman. The first mention of President Ronald Reagan had made himself wait until 1987 and the sanitary guidelines of his successor, George H.W. Bush, did not even convince Magic himself.

There was no evidence that going back to the clues, he would suppose a cut in his life expectancy

However, Johnson's knob had an immediate effect. The day after the announcement of him multiplied calls to consultations and according to information from The New York Times, HIV tests increased by November 60% in the Great Apple. "According to several surveys, their public declaration and all that followed, including interviews on several televisions, were the facts that caused the most impact among the US youth in AIDS prevention policy," reveals José Alcamí, Director of Unity of immunopathogenesis of AIDS of the Carlos III Health Institute.

One of the paladins in the fight against HIV was the prestigious virologist David Ho, whom they came to accuse Johnson as a lure to get more funds for his investigations. "Both Ho and Mellman had the mind open when it comes to appreciating the overview and approaching the attention and treatment appropriately", complete Almond.

Only a few weeks later, Magic decided to compete again. On February 9, 1992, in Orlando, he was elected MVP of All Star after adding 25 points, nine assists and five rebounds. On the horizon of him, the Games of Barcelona used. "We made that decision when we become familiar with the disease and with our ability to control it, there was no evidence that going back to the clues, it would make a worsening or a cut in your life expectancy," adds mellman.

On the way to Gold, in the Badalona Olympic, Magic crossed with a directed Spanish team, from the base helm, by Rafael Jofresa. Three decades later, the legend of Joventut analyzes what that game was in front of Dream Team. "In the dressing room, the AIDS was not even commented, we all understood that there was no danger, on a personal level, playing in front of whom I considered my greatest idol was above any possible infection," recalls Jofresa for this newspaper.

Not all voices, of course, went on that road. And none as highly like that of Malone, which pointed to the scratches and crusts of his arms to alert on a hypothetical contagion. "No one could expect everything to continue as if nothing. Karl behaved like anyone worried or afraid, who does not understand very well the risks, he needed to understand and get used to," says Mellman.

They had to spend three more years for Earvin, thanks to a powerful combination of three therapies, return to the league. "Protease inhibitors were added to the two methods that were already used, based on AZT, and showed a fabulous effect. Thanks to that triple action, Magic is alive," says Alcamí, consulted by the world. "I remember some of my patients who died in 1994 and 1995, and many times I think that if they had endured a few more months they could have benefited from the new treatments and maybe today they would continue with us. Magic is the symbol of a new era of research in The fight against this disease, "completes the coordinator of the Spanish AIDS Research Network.

Your ad was a very brave act, which broke the previous schemes

The return of Johnson was specified on January 2, 1996, with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds before the Warriors. However, that season he would only dispute 32 games before the definitive goodbye. The tough elimination in first round of playoffs before the Rockets represented a reverse for those Lakers immersed in the long transition journey towards Kobe Bryant. "I'm going my way, something I could not get in my frustrated Return of 1992," he said that May 2 in The Press Room of The Summit.

About to turn 37, neither his body nor his head accepted the demands of the competition. Little was already the basis that had always revolutionized basketball from 206 centimeters, winner of five champion rings and three MVP, among other distinctions. "It dominated almost all the facets, it had a very large control of the game. Something that impressed me a lot and that it was not appreciated on television is that he was constantly talking to his companions: cheering them, placing them or throwing tanks," says Jofresa.

Of course his legacy, as one of the creators of that immortal Showtime, will always be drawn with a smile. The same as he exhibited in the fight against illness. "Without the spaciousness of sight of him, we had not left so quickly from those dark times, he never lost his spirits and brought the hope to those who felt totally desperate. 30 years later, that has been the biggest contribution of him," says Almond . And in very similar terms, Alcamí concludes: "His ad was a very brave act, which broke the previous schemes. AIDS / AIDS could not only affect a marginal population, but all of us. He knocked down the walls of stigma and the Damn. His legacy, of course, reaches today, where we do not even talk about AIDS patients, but about people infected by that virus. "

Updated Date: 07 November 2021, 06:11

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