Former NBA Commissioner David Stern passed away on New Year’s Day at the age of 77 after suffering a Intracerebral hemorrhage back in December.
Needless to say, Stern’s three-plus decade term as the commish of the Association impacted the lives of many around the basketball world.
Some of those closest to Stern paid their respects to the former commissioner during his funeral at Radio City Music Hall in New York City Tuesday morning.
Among them, Hall of Famer Magic Johnson opened up with both a passionate and eye-opening speech. It covered Johnson publicly announcing he had HIV back in 1991 and Stern’s response to it.
“When I announced in 1991 I had HIV, people thought they could get the virus from shaking my hand,” Johnson said, via TMZ Sports. “When David allowed me to play in the 1992 All Star Game in Orlando and then play for the Olympic Dream Team, we were able to change the world.”
Johnson’s announcement helped change the conversation surrounding HIV at a time when it was an epidemic around the world, and very few knew anything substantive about the afflication.
Stern’s reaction and willingness to help change the narrative impacted the social construct of the disease. Johnson’s speech on Tuesday recognizes this in a big way.
As an emotional Johnson held back tears, the all-time great simply said “I’m going to miss my angel.”
This really was a splendid way for Magic to pay his respects to a man that both changed the landscape of the NBA and helped move it forward to the modern era under newish commissioner Adam Silver.