Winning Time Recap Magic Met Jerry

“The Swan” begins a dozen years after the events of the rest of the episode. Earvin Johnson Jr., better known to the world as Magic, is sitting in a doctor’s office, anxiously rubbing his hands,

whispering inaudibly to himself. As he exits, the nurses and other staff gaze on him sadly, as if he were a dead man walking — which, as far as anyone rightly believed on November 5, 1991, he was.

Magic had just been diagnosed with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, which at the time was a death sentence. Two days later, he would announce his retirement from the NBA due to his condition,

shocking not only the basketball world but the world large. It wasn’t just that AIDS was still largely believed to be a plague on the gay community and that Magic was straight as far as anyone knew.

It was that Magic Johnson was as famous and beloved his exuberant life force as he was for his ability to throw no-look passes. Leaving aside what little we knew back then about Magic’s personal life

it seemed unfathomable that a man filled with so much energy and positive spirit could be so close to death.

Magic, of course, is still with us, as advancements in medical treatments for HIV have kept him alive and well 30-plus years later. (He even briefly played for the Lakers again in 1996.)

Even in an age when too many programmes start in medias res, it's an odd decision. It's not quite the end of the Showtime Lakers, nor is it the end of the series.

(Their final title was a few years earlier, several key players had already moved on, and Magic had already begun to slow down as a player.) It’s not even the opening to Jeff Pearlman’s book Showtime

Winning Time is based on the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty (Magic, Kareem, Riley). What do Max Borenstein and Jim Hecht (the show's creators) have in common?

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