Johnson says he feels great, and a lot more

December 26, 1991|By Jesse Barkin | Jesse Barkin,Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES * — LOS ANGELES -- Magic Johnson has met the press in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and Detroit in the past three weeks, and has kept reporters on their toes with something new at every stop.

The feeling here is that people can't read enough about him -- particularly in Los Angeles where he played for the Lakers since 1979. Here are some excerpts from last Saturday's 30-minute session before the Lakers-Pistons game in Auburn Hills, Mich., that did not make it into most news reports or sound bites on television:

* ON HIS HEALTH: "I feel good, I feel great. In fact, I feel even better now because I don't hurt as much as I did after every game. . . . I've been fine. I haven't had any side effects [from taking AZT]."

* ON PLAYING AGAIN: "Right now it's no, but we'll see. . . . I don't know if I would play against a doctor's advice. [Dr. David Ho] advised me I should retire, and I decided to do that because I'd rather be here 30 or 40 years from now, than cutting some years off my life by playing in all the games and so on. . . . I want to live, that's the main thing. It's not just about playing basketball.

"I also have another person to consider, too, it's not just me anymore. It's my wife, too. So now it's two heads, not just my hard head. . . . She advises me to stay off that basketball court. She wants me to be chasing her and the baby around for a long time."

* ON AIDS TESTING: "I think it's an individual thing. You can't say it has to be mandatory because of what's happened to me, but I think every guy probably would make it mandatory himself. They would probably want to get checked out."

* ON OWNERSHIP: "When I own my own team I'm definitely going to let [the coach] coach because I have seen where people have interfered and it's cost them. . . . When people own the team they think they can make the deals or try to coach from upstairs. I think it would only hurt if I try to coach and I'm the owner."

* ON FAREWELL TOUR: "I think every player envisions a tour. But then again, I don't want to do that to my team, either. A lot of cities are still asking, and I will do it -- not while they're playing the Lakers, but when they are playing other teams -- so I will be going to a number of cities that have asked me.

"That will make it easier for me and my team, because a lot of emotions fly during something like that."

* ON THE OVERALL PLAN: "There are a lot of things I want to do. The main thing is educating society about AIDS as well as the virus. That's my first battle, and probably the most difficult, because our society has been on a denial situation. And we're not taking everybody in like we should. No matter how they got the virus or the disease, it doesn't matter. They still need our support and our help.

"After that it's raising the money and dividing it into different areas, whether it's research, or pediatrics for kids who have AIDS, or support systems for families who are going through the crisis and don't have funds coming in . . ."

* ON FRUSTRATION OF NOT PLAYING: "Every time I'm sitting there. I'm ready now, but you know you can't go in. So you feel frustrated because you want to get out there."

* ON ADMINISTRATION'S AIDS POLICY: "Some change is going to have to come, and quickly."

* ON DISTRIBUTING CONDOMS IN SCHOOL: "I don't think no school should make a decision like that. I think the parents should make the decisions, and they have to get more involved in their kids. Parents have to get involved in the fight against everything, not just [AIDS], but against gangs, drugs, the whole thing. . . . Because we're not just going to lose them that way [because of AIDS], we're going to lose them in a lot of different ways. So we have to go back and stress the family structure, without a doubt."

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