I was born on June 15th 1988, on the only day during that years NBA Finals that both my father, Isiah Thomas, and my dad's best friend, Magic Johnson (who was supposed to become my Godfather) would be able to see me born.
My father was there and Magic was not.?
That, however, didn?t create lasting spite on my part towards Magic. My father would speak highly of Magic and there were always pictures of the two around the house; my favorite being at my father's wedding with Magic and Mark Aguirre all smiles, all brothers from different mothers.
Anytime Magic was in town, he and my parents would go out to eat and new pictures of the two together would outline my father's computer screen-saver.
It became apparent that the two were drifting apart to some extent, but the reasoning for that remained a mystery to me.?
That is the background to the situation and its relevance to me personally.? I am a huge sports fan, and have lived on that side of professional athletics, as well as on the side of the family member of a well-known basketball player.? Therefore, I believe my perspective of the following issue is well-rounded.?
Often times as sports fans, we fail to hold athletes to the same standards to which the rest of society is asked to adhere.? At times we place an unfair stranglehold upon athletes because of the duty we feel they owe to us as fans. Still, at other times, it means we cut athletes slack for manipulating our love for sport by literally?buying?into their gossip.?
The article written by Ian Thomsen regarding the sudden appearance of a Magic Johnson-Isiah Thomas feud ought to attract the interest of any NBA fan.? Consider the nature of the feud, though, and it ought to make any human being with actual moral standards cringe.?
Magic Johnson has sold out.? Yes, the same Magic Johnson that has positioned himself as a model citizen and role model throughout much of his life in the spotlight (he has practically turned his disease into a positive feature of his being).? Magic has apparently come to the conclusion that profits from another ?athlete authored,? consumer-driven book outweigh the benefits of lasting friendships.??
It has been no secret for roughly 25 years that Magic and Isiah shared a close bond.? I personally can attest to the fact that Isiah has never been shy about their relationship.? Magic has spent time around my family through good and most certainly the bad times as well.? Magic has made public that he personally recommended Isiah for one of the biggest jobs American sports have to offer, the presidency of the New York Knicks, which would turn out to be a statement of complete fiction as it was disputed by Knicks Chairman James Dolan.
Magic finally decided to own up and take the blame for black balling Isiah from the original Dream Team in 1992, a team that indisputably Isiah was an equal on the basketball court to Magic, Bird, or even possibly Jordan.
Magic even alludes to the freeze out of Jordan at the All-Star Game in his book, while Jordan, at his Hall of Fame, induction ceremony finally put to bed those accusations of Isiah saying, "I don't know about any freeze out, I was just happy to be there."
If you consider all of this information, has Isiah been treated unfairly and almost deemed the NBA's punching bag? You bet. ?That is in fact all anybody needs to know of the situation to consider the revelations made by Thomsen on?si.com.?
Set aside any positive or negative feelings you have towards either man, and only consider only the basic fact that a close, intimate friendship did indeed exist at one time.?
Now, do your best to bring superstar athletes down to the level of the normal person (challenging, I know).? Why, by any accepted moral standards, would a friend (Magic) wait so long, after so many public and surely private experiences of companionship along side the other friend (Isiah) to reveal a plethora of qualms, in a book no less??
Three reasons, well actually two main reasons, supported by another inevitably tagging along: a star athlete?s thirst for the spotlight, an opportunity that presents easy money and finally, cowardice.?
Yes, Magic Johnson, when being judged by the normal standards of friendship held by society has shown through his upcoming book that such a venture is an explicit delay of greed and cowardliness.?
Magic, you have a problem with Isiah?? Are you worried your boy was questioning your sexuality?? Interesting considering you chose to maintain a personal relationship (I will avoid the word friendship, sort of) with Isiah, but nonetheless, problems are problems and you obviously feel compelled to express them.? Fine, nobody can argue with that; deal with the situation? as a man.?
As Isiah alludes to numerous times in Thomsen?s article, he simply wishes Magic could have approached him with the problems.? That is, after all, what we all hope for in a friend.? If a problem exists, confront it personally, not in a roundabout manner.? In our daily lives the latter approach typically means talking about the friend with which you have a problem behind his or her back.? Therein lies the distinction.? Magic, knowing his stature as a famous athlete and well-respected, stand-up citizen, has attempted to manipulate the problems he has with a former friend through profit.? If you can?t tell by now I am disgusted by this ploy, but even I understand the numbers a book authored by Larry Bird and Magic Johnson will turn in.? I am in fact not against the purchase of the book ? it will probably make for an interesting read.? Instead, I argue that the book, in light of the developments discussed, should be utilized to judge Magic for the cowardly route he has taken in dealing with conflict.?
I suggest the following: hold star athletes, through their performances on the court, off it and in their business ventures, as this book certainly is, to the same standards you would hold any other individual.? They are not exempt from the moral standards employed by society simply because the public is naturally intrigued by their stores.? Magic Johnson was formerly a very personal role model of mine for reasons that should now be obvious, but no more.? Not after a stunt like this.?
- This article was co-written by Ian Goodman.