A lot of people complain about today’s opposing NBA players being too friendly with one another. It’s a byproduct of the AAU system they say, and they seem to be appalled at the postgame hugs and handshakes, the shared offseason vacations and the overall outward affection and respect that today’s stars have for one another.
At the same time, they hearken back to the gladiator days of the ’80s, when players supposedly had palpable disdain for one another. But most forget about the true brotherhood, going back generations, that some of the all-time greats shared.
And perhaps none of them were more front and center than two of the best point guards the game has ever seen in Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas back when the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons were vying with one another for NBA championships, when they’d lovingly kiss one another on the cheek before doing battle on the hardwood.
But that sense of affection, that bond and brotherhood between Zeke and Magic was broken long ago.
An extremely emotional moment between Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas. https://t.co/jKivUXInqy
None of us are immune to having once-loving friendships that were irreparably fractured for one reason or another. That’s how life gets down sometimes.
But after some personal growth and reflection, opportunities present themselves as the years progress to pick up the pieces, to admit our faults and regrets to one another, to express our desires to work things out and move forward.
And last night on NBA TVs Players Only: Monthly special Magic and Isiah reconciled for the world to see nearly three decades after a feud claimed their friendship.
The Magic/Zeke interview on NBA TV was awesome..2 of my heros..When the game stops, we should all cherish the friendships that we built..forever..
It was an emotional moment that Willie Hutch would have been proud of, and a shining example to all that no matter how long the passage of time, that love is love and brothers need to come clean, bury the past and work it out.
Because life is too short to hold on to things that needed to be let go long ago.
Taken from the album ‘The Mack’
Sometime between the Hall of Famers kissing each other on the cheek before the 1988 NBA Finals and the rematch between the Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons a year later, the friendship was bruised, battered and nearly deconstructed.
This has been a tremendous day. My wife, my mother, my father have been saying, Yall need to get back together. So, when everybody called, I said, No question, were going to do this. And just to sit across from you and relive those moments of fun, excellence, working hard, dreaming big, because we were dreaming of moments before we were even who sits up at 19, 20, 21, dreaming of stuff we wanted to do, and now here we are here doing it? But, you are my brother. Let me apologize to you if I hurt you, that we havent been together, and God is good to bring us back together.
When Isiah broke down crying, and the two shared a long hug, it was great to see the sports world’s greatest Bromance back in full effect..
Ill always be here, Thomas said through tears.
The Lakers and Pistons split their two meetings in the 1988 and 1989 Finals, and the relationship started to become fractured around that time.
Old school basketball. Isiah Thomas smacked Magic Johnson. Magic smacked Isiah back.. I mean during the game, they actually got into it. Their first quarrel. Right there in front of everybody, an actual spat. Viewers who tuned in late must have thought CBS had a new prime-time soap. First, “Dallas.”
Johnson admitted in the 2009 book, When the Game Was Ours, which he wrote with Larry Bird and Hall of Fame writer Jackie MacMullan, that he participated in the effort to keep Thomas off the 1992 Dream Team, believing Isiah spread rumors about his sexuality in the wake of his HIV diagnosis.
Isiah killed his own chances when it came to the Olympics, said Johnson. Nobody on that team wanted to play with him. Michael [Jordan] didnt want to play with him. Scottie [Pippen] wanted no part of him. Bird wasnt pushing for him. Karl Malone didnt want him. Who was saying, We need this guy? Nobody.
Im glad that hes finally had the nerve and the courage to stand up and say it was him, as opposed to letting Michael Jordan take the blame for it all these years, Thomas once responded about Magic’s quote in the book. I wish he would have had the courage to say this stuff to me face to face, as opposed to writing it in some damn book to sell and he can make money off it.
Thomas, obviously hurt about losing his friend, once said, Theres this public person and then theres this b.s. person. Theres Earvin and then theres Magic.
But now, these two legends have buried the hatchet, confronted the past and seem intent in moving forward trying to get back towards the space they once inhabited as true brothers from another mother.
It’s never too late to pick up the pieces. We fall down, but we get up. Same is true for lost friendships. If someone means something to you and you’ve had a falling out, pick up the phone and reach out. Accept your part, apologize, let them know that love is still love and move forward.
Now please excuse me, I have a few long overdue calls to make.