Earvin “Magic” Johnson joined Jimmy Kimmel Live on Thursday and spoke about his new Apple TV+ docuseries, They Call Me Magic. In particular, at one point, he spoke about his return to the NBA in early 1996 after nearly five years away due to his HIV diagnosis. In his second game back, Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers played the soon-to-be world champion Chicago Bulls, which was stacked with a roster consisting of Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman.
“They really showed me the difference between a championship team and a playoff team,” Johnson said. “They were a championship team, we were just a regular team. And they played me so hard. They were physical, they pushed me around…” “They roughed you up,” Kimmel interjected. “Oh, no question about it,” Johnson replied.
Then Johnson revealed the advice Jordan gave him after the game.
“Michael, after that game, he pulled me aside — I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody this,” Johnson said. “He met me in between the locker rooms, and he said, ‘Earvin, you have to remember now, you’re not with Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], you’re not with James Worthy. All the guys you used to play with, Showtime, are not on that Laker team anymore. So remember, maybe you should think about retiring.”
In May of that year, after the two-time world champion Houston Rockets eliminated his Lakers from the playoffs, Johnson took Jordans advice and retired for good at the age of 36. But all these years later, Kimmel still has thoughts on Jordan’s advice to Johnson.
“What a sick person,” Kimmel said, laughing. “What a sick individual.” “But he was right,” Johnson responded. “He was right.”
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