When Magic Johnson retired from the NBA in 1991 due to contracting HIV, it marked the end of the Showtime basketball in Los Angeles. Although he was a key figure and leader for the Dream Team, Magic didn’t return to the NBA due to players fears about playing against him. Remember, during this time knowledge about the HIV virus was sparse and there was no worldwide, instant, informative source like today’s internet. But thanks to Magic, attention to HIV research and knowledge was spread quickly. This lead to his eventual decision to return to the NBA on January 30th, 1996 (Michael Jordan “un-retiring” a year earlier probably helped too).
All eyes were on Magic Johnson as he checked into the game at the Forum. No surprise, with a pair of Converse on his feet. But it wasn’t a pair of classic Pro Leathers or Weapons. Magic laced up a pair of the appropriately named Converse MVP Point Forward. The crowd’s volume increased anytime he received the ball or checked back into the game. For the game, Magic did what Magic does best. He gave the team and fans an emotional surge which meant the Golden State Warriors had little chance. Over 4 years off and plenty of pounds heavier Magic finished with a near triple-double (18-8-10) in his first game back in the NBA. And he did so with a pair of Cons on his feet and his infectious smile. For the rest of the 1996 season, Showtime was back in Los Angeles.