Clyde Drexler: Everyone on Dream Team pitied Magic Johnson because he had HIV
Jack McCallum has written a new book called “Dream Team,” and in the book, Drexler shares his opinion about Magic’s role on the team. In fact, Drexler says Magic only made the 1992 Olympic team because he was pitied.
Here is an excerpt from the book as shared by Deadspin:
“Magic was always…” And Drexler goes into a decent Magic impression: “‘Come on, Clyde, come on, Clyde, get with me, get with me,’ and making all that noise. And, really, he couldn’t play much by that time. He couldn’t guard his shadow.”
“But you have to have to understand what was going on then. Everybody kept waiting for Magic to die. Every time he’d run up the court everybody would feel sorry for the guy, and he’d get all that benefit of the doubt. Magic came across like, ‘All this is my stuff.’ Really? Get outta here, dude. He was on the declining end of his career.”
Drexler had played exquisitely in the 1992 All-Star Game in Orlando, although the MVP award eventually went to Magic, who had been added by Commissioner Stern as a special thirteenth player to the Western Conference roster. “If we all knew Magic was going to live this long, I would’ve gotten the MVP of that game, and Magic probably wouldn’t have made the Olympic team.”
Johnson had already played 12 of his 13 seasons in the NBA before joining the Dream Team, so it’s not a stretch for Drexler to say that Magic’s skills were declining. But that doesn’t mean Johnson still couldn’t play — he obviously could.
While Johnson’s HIV diagnosis — which seemed like a certain death sentence at the time — could have played a large role in people treating him specially, Drexler comes off as bitter with his comments. If you look at the boxscore from the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, you’ll see that Magic pretty much outplayed everyone in that game, including Drexler.
Whether you agree with Drexler’s comments or not, we can all agree that there was plenty of tension on the team. That’s no surprise; what else do you expect to happen when you put 11 eventual Hall of Famers on the same team?