I was disbelieving and disheartened, just like everyone else.
I was in the newsroom at the Los Angeles Daily News when the word about Magic Johnson came pouring through like lava 20 years ago. As the paper’s sports media columnist at the time, I was sent home to listen to the radio coverage on various stations of his announcement and the aftermath, and can testify to the shock and sadness (not to mention the popping undercurrent of recriminations) directed his way.
As shocking as it was that he would be retiring, the thing we couldn’t get past was that inexorably, we’d soon be getting news of his passing. We wanted to think that wasn’t possible, but we had no right to. Johnson would be our Lou Gehrig.
Magic’s survival and thrival all these years could be called the ultimate “you never know.” So many tragedies in this life … it is worth celebrating when one of them takes a U-turn into a happier ending.