But then Magic visited Normal Park a few years ago, charming and disarming not only the school's inspiring and impressionable students but also their principal.
"He was incredible," she recalled. "I remember him talking about how good he was with his right hand in basketball when he was a kid and a coach told him he'd never be great until he got better with his left hand. It was a great lesson that no matter how good you are, you can always improve.
"But it wasn't just our kids who were impressed. There were a lot of adults there that day, too. Just to hear about the kind of work ethic he's always shown in succeeding not only in athletics but also business was so impressive."
So when Levine watched the
"Magic's a guy that's gone through some tough things in life, things I'm sure he wishes he could change, like contracting the HIV virus," she said. "But he was also very open about that, telling our kids to learn from his mistakes. Everything about that day was so special. How he involved the kids in his talk, how he brought gifts to them, had pictures made with them. It was the kind of day that everyone who was there will remember for the rest of their lives."
It would be nice to forget about Sterling and the bigoted remarks he made to his mistress about Magic and others that wound up on an audio tape, though many will argue justifiably that that tape should have remained private.
But sometimes the truth outs you in the most unexpected of ways. Because the conversation with the mistress was made public, Sterling almost immediately was banned for life from attending any
Maybe that's fair and maybe it's not. But given a chance to gain empathy, if not sympathy, on
Bash Magic, who may be the most inspiring black athlete of the last 50 years? Really? Why not rip
And just to be clear, Magic's basketball career may wind up becoming his least lasting mark on society.
As for Sterling's assertion that "has [Magic] done everything he can to help minorities? I don't think so," Johnson's business empire of coffee shops, movie theaters, fitness centers and such -- most of them placed in financially disadvantaged areas and employing hundreds of minorities -- is now valued at
So even if you subscribe to the belief that everyone can do more to help those less fortunate, how many have done more than Magic?
On Tuesday, he told TMZ, "I'm going to pray for the man. We need to get him some help."
But Levine's bright mind -- she's so smart the
"When we got there that night, Magic was more a name than an
"But his message was immediately compelling to those kids because he took ownership of his past mistakes. He didn't run from his past. And then, when it was over, he spent real time with them, answering questions, posing for pictures, really going that extra mile with them. For anyone to say he's not a good role model, that's insane."
Added Levine: "When it comes to Magic, it's what we try to tell our kids every day: Everybody makes mistakes. It's what you learn from those mistakes."
Judging from his CNN interview, Sterling continues to learn very little from his.
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