Magic Johnson Regrets Retirement

In a new interview with the Los Angeles Times, Magic Johnson reflects on his decision to retire 20 years ago, after he had contracted HIV.

Posted: 08/06/2011 03:57 PM EDT
Filed Under Magic Johnson

Even now, 20 years after he admitted to the world that he had contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, Magic Johnson feels regret that he retired too soon.


Johnson recently opened up to the Los Angeles Times. In a video interview, Johnson, who seemed in good spirits and good health, reminisces on how if he could do it all over again, he would have stayed in the game.


"If I knew what I know now, I wouldn't have retired," Johnson said. "But I didn't know that then. And you've just got to go with what happened."


Writes the Times:


At the time, many wrongly perceived that Johnson had contracted AIDS and that he could spread the disease through simple contact. His abrupt retirement in 1991 did little to quell that notion, but his participation in the 1992 NBA All-Star game and as a member of the U.S. Dream Team in the Olympics quickly put those qualms to rest. Still, Johnson retired before coming back in the 1995-96 season amid continued skepticism from even his U.S. Olympic teammates that he'd put everyone else at risk.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, African-Americans and Latinos remain the most affected by HIV. Blacks only represent 14 percent of the U.S. population, but they accounted for 44 percent of all new HIV infections in 2009. Latinos, who represent 16 percent of the population, accounted for 20 percent of all new infections that year.


Black men had the highest rate of new HIV infections, equaling more than 100 cases per 100,000 people, according to the report.