October 22, 2009
Isiah Thomas is firing back over criticisms levied by longtime "friend" Magic Johnson in a new book chronicling the careers of Johnson and Larry Bird, and boy, are things getting ugly. It's like an episode of "The Hills," except, unfortunately, there's a lot more leg showing. Shudder.
"I'm really hurt, and I really feel taken advantage of for all these years," Thomas told Ian Thomsen at SI.com on Thursday. "I'm totally blindsided by this. Every time that I've seen Magic, he has been friendly with me."
As you can see in the photo above, the two Hall of Famers were once portrayed as having one of the NBA's tightest "bromances," dating back to when they kissed each other before the start of a 1988 NBA Finals game and their crowdpleasing 1-on-1 battle in the final moments of the 1992 NBA All-Star Game.
But in Johnson's new book, "When The Game Was Ours" — co-written with Bird and author Jackie MacMullan — Magic paints a not so flattering portrait of his once rival point guard. (See: this.)
As a fan of both of them, this hurts.
"Magic addresses years of rumors by finally accusing Thomas of questioning his sexuality after Johnson was diagnosed with HIV in 1991. Magic also admits that he joined with Michael Jordan and other players in blackballing Thomas from the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, saying, 'Isiah killed his own chances when it came to the Olympics. Nobody on that team wanted to play with him. ... Michael didn't want to play with him. Scottie [Pippen] wanted no part of him. Bird wasn't pushing for him. Karl Malone didn't want him. Who was saying, 'We need this guy?' Nobody.'"
Responded Thomas, first regarding the Olympic freeze out:
"I'm glad that he's 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."
What seems to have irked Magic, and was likely the reason he joined other Dream Team members in blackballing Isiah from playing in Barcelona, was his belief that the Pistons guard was spreading rumors about his sexuality.
"'Isiah kept questioning people about it ... I couldn't believe that. The one guy I thought I could count on had all these doubts. It was like he kicked me in the stomach.'"
"What most people don't know is, before Magic had HIV, my brother had HIV [...] My brother died of HIV, AIDS, drug abuse. So I knew way more about the disease, because I was living with it in my house."
I don't know where to go from here other than to agree with Shoals that as much of a laughingstock as Thomas has become, especially in New York, you have to feel for him. He sounds terribly betrayed.