Bad blood between two of the NBA's most celebrated athletes has turned into a public feud. In his soon-to-be-released book, basketball legend Magic Johnson paints a disparaging picture of one-time friend Isiah Thomas. Johnson, who is HIV positive, accused Thomas of forcing his retirement at age 32 by spreading rumors he was gay:
Isiah kept questioning people about it. I couldn't believe that. The one guy I thought I could count on had all these doubts. It was like he kicked me in the stomach.
An outraged Thomas is now looking to set the record straight. In a Sports Illustrated interview, Thomas refutes a slew of claims made about him and other players in the book. Overall, Thomas says the book is a hurtful and sleazy attempt to sell books:
"It's so hypocritical,'' said Thomas, who was replaced by current Knicks president Donnie Walsh in 2008. "There's this public person and then there's this b.s. person. There's Earvin and then there's Magic. OK, I understand you've got to sell a book. But if this is how you sell it, then who's kicking who in the stomach? You're talking about being two-faced? ...He's been the one stabbing me in the back... I'm really hurt and disappointed.
First out of the gate for commentary on the feud is dejected basketball fan Dashiell Bennett at Deadspin:
Whoever you believe, it's pretty clear from this sordid tale—and Michael Jordan's Hall of Fame speech, among other incidents—that pretty much every superstar you idolized as a kid is a selfish, insecure, backstabbing prick. Of course, that's also why they were all such awesome basketball players.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.