Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on David Letterman!

| April 14, 2012 | 1 Comment
magic and larry bird on david letterman

Earvin “Magic” Johnson & Larry Bird in action


Author: Sylvia Burley

Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird were on David Letterman recently talking about their rivalry and promoting the new play about their lives which made me remember a chance meeting I had with Magic.

When I first arrived at Michigan State University, I had no idea who Earvin “Magic” Johnson was.  Even when he was the guest speaker for my incoming freshman class, I remember looking at him thinking, “What is the big deal?”

Sure he was a local basketball hero on his way to becoming a national basketball treasure, but at the time, I wondered what all the hoopla was over this guy who really wasn’t a very good speaker at all.

As Magic’s legend grew, I became more familiar with him and his beautiful wife Cookie (also an MSU alum), admiring from a distance but never thinking too much about him.

Then, I had the opportunity to meet Magic.  He was, by this time, retired from basketball and a successful business person.  He had come to Atlanta to open a Magic Johnson Theater, this time at Greenbriar Mall (where I was Asst. Marketing Director) in the Southwest Atlanta area.  The day he came to our offices for the meeting, only a very few people knew he was going to be there.  I was not one of them, so when he walked past my office I couldn’t believe my eyes!  During that all day meeting with the General Manager, Magic walked back and forth past my office several times on his way to the rest room or the kitchen.  I said to myself, “the next time he walks by, I’m going to say something to him.”

“Hi Magic.  I’m a fellow Spartan!”, I finally got the courage to blurt as he passed my door yet again.

“Really?”, he responded.

I cannot tell you what was said after that or even how long we actually talked.  I can say he was the nicest, friendliest, most down to earth celebrity I had ever met (then or since).  I can still picture him standing in the doorway with his hands resting on top of the door frame as easily as you or I would rest our hands on the doorknob.  I immediately felt the effects of that radiant smile and personality that makes you feel as if you and he are the only people in the world and his attention couldn’t possibly wander elsewhere.  I understood why so many love and respect him, not only for his athletic prowess, but also for his genuine and humble spirit.

I am in awe of Magic and what he has achieved, including becoming an excellent speaker and highly coveted sports commentator, a successful businessman, and staying the same grounded person he’s always been!  He is a great example of moving beyond athletics or celebrity to success in life.

Magic and Bird on who is better:

  Behind the scene details about shooting their sneaker commercial:

Larry Bird recalls his emotions when he first heard Magic was HIV positive:

On being competitors on the court and friends off of the court:

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About the Author ()

Sylvia Burley is a Freelance Writer and Integrated Marketing & Communications Consultant. She writes on various topics including marketing, politics, entertainment, current events, and living green. A native Detroiter, she is a graduate of Michigan State University and loves singing, foreign movies and rollercoasters. She currently resides in Atlanta because she doesn't like the cold.

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  1. Clarence E. Dupree says:

    Re-read the paragraph of where you had the opportunity to meet Magic.
    You mentioned by that time he had retired and was a successful businessman.

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