Johnson shows no symptoms of AIDS, agent says Notes

November 20, 1991

Magic Johnson underwent an initial medical evaluation that revealed no signs or symptoms of AIDS, his agent said yesterday.

Lon Rosen said in a statement that Johnson was examined Monday by Dr. Ronald Mitsuyasu in an outpatient visit to the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles and, according to Mitsuyasu, was in excellent physical condition.

Johnson began taking the drug AZT, the standard treatment for HIV, on Monday, according to a UCLA School of Medicine spokesman, Richard Elbaum.

Doctors generally start giving AIDS-infected people AZT when damage to their immune systems has reduced their number of white blood cells called "helper T-cells," which are key components in the body's ability to combat disease.

Johnson's physicians have declined to reveal his T-cell count. An AIDS-infected person can have a reduced T-cell count even before developing symptoms of AIDS. AZT delays the onset of AIDS symptoms.

"Johnson will return periodically to UCLA for routine follow-up visits," Elbaum said.

Elbaum also said he had no information on Johnson's wife, Cookie, who is two months pregnant.

Johnson announced on Nov. 7 that he had tested positive for HIV and was retiring after a 12-year career with the Los Angeles Lakers.

At that time, Johnson said his wife had tested negative for the virus.

Mitsuyasu is a specialist in HIV and director of the UCLA Center for Clinical AIDS Research and Education. He has been treating HIV and AIDS patients at UCLA since 1982.

Johnson, 32, who led the Lakers to five NBA championships, was examined a day after attending his first Lakers game since he retired.

The Lakers announced yesterday that Johnson had been placed on the injured list and guard Demetrius Calip had been signed to take Johnson's place on the roster.

As long as Johnson remains on the injured list, he will be allowed to sit on the Lakers' bench during games.

Johnson sat on the bench, serving as a cheerleader of sorts, as the Lakers beat the Atlanta Hawks, 111-89, Sunday night for their fourth straight victory after a 1-3 start.

Calip was released shortly before the start of the season, then signed when Tony Smith went on the injured list a few days later, and released again last week when Smith was activated.

* TIMBERWOLVES: Top draft pick Luc Longley joined the team for a workout after signing a four-year contract that reportedly will pay him at least $1.6 million a season.

Longley arrived in the Twin Cities on Monday, took part in a Timberwolves' practice yesterday, then attend a news conference to announce the signing. Contract terms were not disclosed.

Longley was the last of the NBA's first-round draft picks to sign and he was more than two months behind the schedule he had hoped for last summer. Asked Monday whether he was upset or bitter that it took so long, Longley said: "Not at all. All that stuff is just part of the past now. The emphasis should be that it is done and I'm glad that it's done."

Coach Jimmy Rodgers said he doubted Longley would play in tonight's game at San Antonio, although he will make the trip to Texas.

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