Clyde Drexler: Everybody On The Dream Team Felt Sorry For Magic, Everyone In The NBA Was Waiting For Him To Die

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Sports Illustrated's Jack McCallum followed the Dream Team around during the 1992 Olympics, and he has a new book, Dream Team, which covers the team in great detail. McCallum writes about the NBA climate before Barcelona, the team's various selection controversies, their legendary practices, and the games themselves.


McCallum also visits some of the Dream Teamers in 2011. One is Clyde Drexler, who hasn't let go of his old bitter feelings about Magic Johnson, his HIV-afflicted teammate. Magic learned he was HIV-positive before the 1991 NBA season and retired quickly. He came back for the 1992 NBA All-Star Game, and had 25 points and nine assists. He also kept his spot on the Dream Team. Clyde was not pleased about any of that.

"Magic was always..." And Drexler goes into a decent Magic impression: "'Come on, Clyde, come on, Clyde, get with me, get with me,' and making all that noise. And, really, he couldn't play much by that time. He couldn't guard his shadow."

"But you have to have to understand what was going on then. Everybody kept waiting for Magic to die. Every time he'd run up the court everybody would feel sorry for the guy, and he'd get all that benefit of the doubt. Magic came across like, 'All this is my stuff.' Really? Get outta here, dude. He was on the declining end of his career."

Drexler had played exquisitely in the 1992 All-Star Game in Orlando, although the MVP award eventually went to Magic, who had been added by Commissioner Stern as a special thirteenth player to the Western Conference roster. "If we all knew Magic was going to live this long, I would've gotten the MVP of that game, and Magic probably wouldn't have made the Olympic team."


You can preorder Dream Team, which comes out from Ballantine Books on July 10, here.

Update, June 28: We've changed the headline on this piece to reflect that NBA players in general—not the Dream Team specifically—were the ones waiting for Magic to die, as McCallum has clarified.