It was November 7, 1991. I had just turned five. The very idea of mortality was not something I could possibly comprehend, yet there sat my dad, a superhuman by my thoroughly unbiased standards, with tears in his eyes.
Magic Johnson had just informed the world he could no longer play in the National Basketball Association due to the HIV virus he had contracted. It was a death sentence no one wanted to cop to while knowing how those things played out.
I barely remember that day, but to hear it from my mom’s recollection, Los Angeles had hardly known a darker time. The Irwin household had hardly known a darker time.
We weren’t alone by any stretch of the imagination, and the Buss family household was no different in their reaction to such devastating news.
Jeanie Buss hopped on Michael Rosenbaum’s “Inside of You” podcast and was asked if she had ever seen her dad cry. Her answer was something just about anyone can relate to:
“I only saw my dad cry twice: Once when his mother died, and when Magic had to retire…”
As much crap as I’ll give to the Buss family for handling the Lakers as a mom-and-pop shop despite the Lakers being a multi-billion-dollar entity, this type of thing is exactly why super-duper-stars like Magic, Kareem, Kobe and Shaq see their time as Lakers as, just… different.
Magic has a tall order in front of him as he tries to do his best to bring the Lakers back to championship relevancy, but frankly, we’re all blessed that he has this opportunity, given the death sentence many considered his retirement to be back in 1991.