Clyde Drexler Denies Making ?Hurtful? Comments About Magic Johnson In Jack McCallum?s ?Dream Team? Book

 
on June 28 2012 2:51 PM
Magic Johnson Commemorates 20th Anniversary of Historic Public HIV Announcement
Twenty years and still strong and fighting – Magic Johnson, who had publicly revealed his HIV diagnosis to a shocked world in 1991, celebrated his twenty years of beating the virus at Staples Center on Monday. Reuters

Clyde Drexler is denying that he made negative statements about Magic Johnson in an upcoming book.

Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever is being published by Ballantine Books and it is scheduled for release on July 10.

The book was written by veteran sports journalist Jack McCallum and is about the 1992 U.S. Olympic Men's Basketball Team that competed in the Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. At the time, Johnson and Drexler were playing for the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers, respectively. The team eventually won, beating Croatia in the final.

The website Deadspin.com published quotes attributed to Drexler in McCallum's book that had to do with Johnson playing on the Dream Team and getting the MVP award. Apparently, Drexler thought that Johnson's admission to the team and his winning the MVP award were sympathy moves for the basketball player, who at the time had recently been diagnosed with HIV.

But you have to have to understand what was going on then, Drexler is quoted as saying in the book. Everybody kept waiting for Magic to die. Every time he'd run up the court everybody would feel sorry for the guy, and he'd get all that benefit of the doubt. Magic came across like, 'All this is my stuff.' Really? Get outta here, dude. He was on the declining end of his career.

Drexler denied speaking the quotes attributed to him.  

Magic and I have a friendship that goes back more than 28 years and I would never say such hurtful things,'' Drexler said in a statement, the Associated Press reported. ''I have reached out to Magic to assure him that I did not say those things and to apologize to him and his family for even having to respond to something as baseless as this.

As for McCallum, who wrote for Sports Illustrated for more than two decades and is now listed as a Special Contributor (he still writes for SI on a regular basis), he's sticking to his reporting -- and offering proof.  

He posted part of the transcript of his October 2010 interview with Drexler and wrote the following about the Deadspin article: The way the excerpt was presented it appeared to be saying that Drexler said his Dream Team mates pitied Magic and were waiting for him to die. That is not the case. As I have said repeatedly, context is important. Drexler was talking about a league-wide feeling that existed back then, not a feeling that existed on the Dream Team.

Also, Deadspin says in its lead-in that Drexler was 'not pleased' that Magic kept his spot on the Dream Team. I never wrote that. It might've been inferred by some reading selected quotes. However, Clyde did think that there were others more deserving than Magic based on Magic's abilities at that time. Heck, Drexler thought that four players should've been on the team who weren't. A fuller discussion of that is in the book.

As for Johnson, he addressed Drexler's quotes in the book in an interview with the Wall Street Journal.

If that's how he felt, that's how he felt, Johnson said of Drexler. I think that Clyde was a guy who always fought for more publicity. A guy who probably thought that he should deserve more credit. If he felt like that I'm okay with it.

There is one thing, though, that he would say to Drexler, and anyone else, for that matter.

I didn't want any sympathy, Johnson told the WSJ, adding that he just wanted to be treated the way he was treated before everyone found out he was HIV positive.

Dream Team will be available in hardcover and for Kindle and NOOK.

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