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STERN WARNS OF MAGIC-PHOBIA WHILE JOHNSON IS NEWS COVER BOY
Published February 5, 1996
NBA Commissioner David Stern "fired back" at players critical of Magic Johnson's return to the NBA. He said the only way to eliminate their fear would be through widespread testing for the virus that causes AIDS -- "and that would make no sense." Stern: "This is not Salem. This is the NBA. We are not going on a witch hunt." Stern notes some players' objections said, "It's an issue we've confronted, we've wrestled with and it was determined the best solution was don't test" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 2/4). ON THE COVER: Johnson is featured on the cover of TIME, NEWSWEEK, and U.S. NEWS, with a focus on his dealings with HIV (THE DAILY). Johnson spoke with NBC's Bob Costas and commented on other players' fears against him playing: "I played against the best player in the world (Jordan) and I think he walked away alright. If the games are not teaching them something, what else can?" ("NBA on NBC," 2/4). MAGIC, PART III: Sean Callebs on "Moneyline" reported on the return of Magic to the NBA and his matchup against Jordan. Callebs: "Critics wonder if the league isn't relying too heavily on these aging stars to take it back to the future -- to a time before trash talk and rough play tarnished the league's image (CNN, 2/2). In L.A., Mark Hiesler writes the '80's, "a golden period for the NBA and one much missed in the '90's, are back, if only for a moment, and who isn't glad to see them?" (L.A. TIMES, 2/4). In Dallas, David Moore asks, "Does this simply represent an unwillingness on the part of most fans to let go of the past, or does it show a reluctance to embrace the players of Generation X?" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 2/4). Asked by Costas if anyone had picked up his role as the NBA's "Goodwill Ambassador," Johnson said: "It's still sitting there. ... The Olympics will do a good job of exposing them to the World, and then one of them, be it Grant, Shaq, Penny, somebody will emerge" ("NBA on NBC," 2/4).