Malone the Big Takeaway from THE ANNOUNCEMENT

Posted: March 12, 2012 in Bunker

I wasn’t alive for it. But I know the date as though I was there watching it in the moment. He’s my favorite player that I’ve never watched live and I must say probably my least favorite pundit. However, ESPN’s The Announcement gave me Goosebumps as many of the other 30 for 30 films have. I take it for granted that I can see Magic on ABC every Sunday or that his imprint on Harlem, New York is as strong as Malcolm X or that he has more of an effect on HIV than HIV has had an effect on him. Nelson George did an amazing job of really allowing Magic to tell the story, instead of a narrator who would not be able to really capture the emotion Magic felt. Kudos Nelson.

I didn’t know what it was like to know an uninfected Magic Johnson. Aside from the few vague recollections I have of him overweight and dribbling through the 1996 New York Knicks, I don’t remember what he was like as a player. The Announcement did a better job than the Bird vs. Magic documentary or the SportsCentury documentary of how truly remarkable a figure Magic was during the 1980’s. The symbol of all that was great about the NBA at the time. [Never forget that before Magic and Bird, the NBA was viewed thuggish league that was “too black” and turned off many mainstream fans.]

But the most remarkable thing was watching a world ignorant of the HIV virus and the AIDS disease. Players who were concerned about their safety, teammates worrying about being too close to Magic and friends voicing their concerns out-loud. It’s shocking that Karl Malone’s comments were seen as par for the course and valid concern at the time. Even more jaw-dropping was Karl Malone’s refusal to admit that his comments were insensitive, offensive and just plain wrong. Even he admitted that his comments and his refusal to retract his statements almost 20 years later “make him sound like a country bumpkin”. So what’s stopping you from admitting your ignorance, Karl? As remarkable as the documentary was, I think the one thing I took from it was that Karl Malone is not a good person. While the documentary was very well done, celebrated Magic’s work in the HIV-AIDS community and profiled his cultural impact in a way, I will always remember it for Malone’s strong stand for ignorance. For every step forward a guy like Magic takes, guys like Karl Malone will push the movement back a few steps.

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