Wednesday, March 14, 2012

ESPN Films: The Announcement

Riding on the stationary bike, I watched The Announcement. The documentary is built around Magic Johson's November 7, 1991 announcement that he was HIV-positive and would be retiring from basketball immediately.

The first half of the film provides an overview of his life. It looks at his family background and his years in high school, college and the Lakers. It highlights his long relationship with the woman that he eventually marries: Earlitha "Cookie" Kelly. The first half of the film provides a very good summary of who Magic is. I was fascinated by the fact that he won five (5) NBA titles. While I remember the Lakers as being good, I don't remember them as being that good.

The press conference comes almost exactly 45 minutes through the 90 minute film. I had not remembered that he had only gotten married a couple of months before the announcement.

The second half of the documentary explores the impact on his life of being HIV-positive. It looks at the 1992 NBA All-Star game, the Dream Team in the 1992 Olympics and his aborted attempt to play in the NBA at the beginning of the 1992-1993 season. The film explores his role as a spokesman for HIV and AIDS.

Magic narrated the film. Overall, I was very impressed with him. The film surprised me; I watched it with few expectations. It was an interesting story told well.

The Announcement is also available in iTunes.

Bill Simmons did two podcasts with Magic talking about his life and the film that are a very nice supplement to the documentary.  Part One is here, while Part Two is here. Part Two also ran as an 1/2 hour television episode on ESPN after the initial showing of The Announcement!  Simmons' podcast has had a number of interesting episodes lately, but that is the topic for another post on another day.

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