The story of the rivalry and friendship between Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, the subject of a terrific HBO documentary a couple of years ago, will become a Broadway show this month as “Magic/Bird” starts previews at the Longacre Theater on March 21. The same creative team behind “Lombardi” are responsible for this show.
I’m not sure if the timing is coincidental but ESPN is broadcasting “The Announcement” this Sunday night at 9. The title refers to Magic Johnson’s press conference of Nov. 7, 1991 held at the Forum in LA, where he announced to the world that he had HIV.
Although this documentary was directed by respected director and critic Nelson George, there is little doubt that Magic called a lot of shots, and he serves as the film’s narrator.
Johnson talks a lot about his childhood and confesses that he is not proud of the carousing he did in the 1980s. To his credit, he has spent much of the last 20 years raising money for AIDS research in a very public way.
Magic is seen throughout the documentary meeting with women and children who have the virus, and it’s hard to hold back a tear when you see him talking to the late Elizabeth Glaser, who fell victim to AIDS from an unfortunate blood transfusion. On the other hand, you hardly see him interacting with the group most affected by this insidious disease, gay men. The only conclusion I can draw is that he is trying to ward off speculation that he may have contracted the disease from a man.
Of course, how he got HIV is irrelevant. What counts is the good work he’s done raising funds and awareness. Still, it’s disingenuous for Magic, George and NBA Entertainment, which financed the film, to pretend AIDS is mainly a heterosexual problem when perception and reality are the polar opposite.
Valley fever, a disease that weakens your immune system a la influenza, and is common in Arizona, is certainly not as grave a condition as the HIV virus. You wouldn’t know that, however, from the tabloid backpage hysteria last Sunday, after a test revealed that Mets first baseman Ike Davis tested positive for it.
Given all the health woes that have befallen our Flushing heroes in recent seasons — injury-plagued Davis in particular — pessimism is somewhat expected. Thankfully, Ike has not had any severe reactions so far. Mets fans should be more concerned about David Wright’s strained rib cage.
I confess I hadn’t seen an Islanders game in nearly two months, until I went to Philadelphia last Thursday to watch them lose to the Flyers 6-3 despite a pair of Josh Bailey goals.
The Isles are anesthesiologists on the ice as they put everyone to sleep with their lethargic play. Even the normally raucous Flyers fans barely cheered when their guys scored a goal.
By the way Philly’s Wells Fargo Center, which opened in 1996, looks as if it just opened. It will be interesting to see if we’ll be able to say the same thing about the Barclays Center in 2028.