Magic Johnson Cries

MagicCriesI saw Magic sob for the second time on national TV last night lamenting the loss of Dr. Jerry Buss. It reminded me of the first time I saw him cry.

Magic was always that larger than life hero. I argue that while there may be a few (very few) more talented ball players he is probably the most valuable overall player in the history of the game in terms of what he did for his team(s). And he almost always had that big smile on his face while playing.

The other time I saw him cry was in 1992 while speaking at the celebration of his Lakers jersey being retired. It had such an impact on me I remember it like it was yesterday. All the big names were there (Larry Bird, Jerry West, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan) and they were all crying. Everyone thought Magic was going to die. He had been diagnosed with HIV a number of months before, and was forced to retire in the prime of his career.

It was difficult to watch him struggle to speak.

But he did not cry when talking about HIV, or having to retire, or having his career that he loved so much taken away from him, or even as he evaded the prospects that he wouldn’t live more than a few years. What moved him to tears is when he spoke about missing being with his teammates. The times in the locker rooms, in practices, etc.

Missing those times with the people, most of whom had become friends, where they were in something together, and knowing that was lost forever is what was ripping his guts out the most. There is no substitute for this in life.

It’s the people. It’s not the actions. It’s not the stuff we acquire. It’s not fame and recognition. It’s the people we care about and the personal one-on-one experiences we have with them.

Treasure that.

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