When Magic Johnson held a press conference announcing that he was HIV-positive in 1991, popular perception was that this was essentially a death sentence. HIV leads to AIDS and there's simply no coming back from that. But Magic Johnson is still alive and doing well, appearing on "Late Show" (Weeknights, 11:35 p.m. ET on CBS) with his long-time friend and one-time rival Larry Bird.
The two became close friends due to a rivalry that developed beginning in 1979 and through the 1980s as the two of them were among the best players in basketball. That rivalry came with a mutual respect that blossomed into a genuine friendship. One that was firmly solidified by the time of Johnson's announcement.
"The best feeling is when a friend supports you," Johnson said of Bird after the announcement. "And this young man came and supported me. Forget the sports, forget the championships, forget the MVP. He came to my side and supported me and I'll never forget that."
Bird did that while suffering through a sort of grief he equated to when he lost his father. "It was the first time I could ever remember not wanting to play basketball. I had a pit in my stomach for days after, even after I talked to him because in my mind nine or ten years he's gonna be gone."
Bird talked about his fears about the future, as the two of them had dreams of playing in the Olympics. That dream came true as the 1992 "Dream Team" took home gold and captured the heart of the world. And here it is more than two decades later, and Johnson is still going strong, living and dreaming.
Watch "Late Show" every weeknight at 11:35 p.m. ET on CBS.