MAGIC MAN


Early in the morning 'till after the sky grows dark
All alone at the rundown inner-city blacktop park
Worn out shoes with torn laces and bottoms full of holes
Glide silently toward the chipped and battered, faded backboard goals
As small tired feet leap high into humid mid air
The ball drops through the hoop, of that the young boy is sure
There is no swish for there is no net on the worn rusted rim
Only silent confidence that another shot dropped unerringly in
Each day after school and throughout long hot summers of Michigan
While others chase boyhood pleasures, he comes to practice again and again
At night he dreams of Chamberlain, Russell, Baylor and West
And envisions how he might do even better and somehow, be the very best
"I will be unselfish while others pursue their own personal fame and glory
I will be a team player, letting the assists of my actions tell the story". . .

When we the people speak of basketball, we talk about Bill Russell and the      others mentioned above
We may speak of Larry Bird, Kobe and Shaq, Lisa Leslie and Abdul-Jabbar
Sometimes we mention Jody Conradt, John Wooden and Red Auerbach. . .
     and then there's Michael

When we the people speak of great minds, we talk about Socrates and
     Aristotle
We speak of Albert Einstein and William Shakespeare, Sir Isaac Newton and      Stephen Hawking
Sometimes we mention Mammonides, Euclid and Pythagoras of old. . . and      then there's Leonardo

When we the people speak of comedy, we talk about W.C. Fields and Mae      West
We may speak of Laurel and Hardy, Keaton, Chaplin, Marx Brothers, Williams      and Carlin
Sometimes we mention Hope and Lear, George Burns and Bill Cosby. . . and      then there's Samuel

Clemens, that is and like Samuel and the prophets of old
He spoke of our madness and folly in caustic voice, sarcastic and bold
For he was a prophet of we the people, carrying his bible of hypocrisy and
     gaffe
Compelling us to examine our own selves, bowing to reason and forcing us to      laugh
On the tail of Haley's famous comet he rode out, as nearly a century before,
     he had ridden in
Requiring us all to think at least twice and to repent of our American sin
For his was a war prayer, a song of repentance from hypocrisy and shame
Would to God that he was here today to correct the utter folly of our blindness      insane! *

Early in the morning 'till after the sky grows dark
All alone at the rundown inner-city blacktop park
Worn out shoes with torn laces and bottoms full of holes
Glide silently toward the chipped and battered, faded backboard goals
As small tired feet leap high into humid mid air
The ball drops through the hoop, of that the young boy is sure
There is no swish for there is no net on the worn rusted rim
Only silent confidence that another shot dropped unerringly in
Each day after school and throughout long hot summers of Michigan
While others chase boyhood pleasures, he comes to practice again and again
At night he dreams of Chamberlain, Russell, Baylor and West
And envisions how he might do even better and somehow, be the very best
"I will be unselfish while others pursue their own personal fame and glory
I will be a team player, letting the assists of my actions tell the story" **


The Magic Johnson Foundation       Dikembe Mutombo Foundation


DEDICATED TO:  Mary Thomas, mother of Hall Of Fame basketball player Isaiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons, a most dedicated single mother who worked virtually around the clock to push her children out of the ghetto and into the mainstream of positive contribution and to Cookie Kelly Johnson, who stood by the Magic Man in sickness as well as in health.  Also dedicated to UCLA basketball coaching legend John Wooden, the consummate 'team-player' coach, whose win-loss record proves the ultimate value of unselfish contribution for the good of the whole and to Dikembe Mutombo, designated as overall "Good Guy" in sports by The Sporting News for his tireless humanitarian efforts off the court, both in his native Africa and in the United States.


*FootNote:  One reason that Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain, was perhaps, America's greatest author, is that he had the combined wisdom of historical and biblical background seasoned with a great deal of actual life experience.  Seemingly lost on many modern American authors is the necessity of comprehensive historical, biblical and scientific knowledge in order to comprehend and portray proper perspective of one's subject and the even greater requirement of writing about what one knows from personal life experience; among American authors, note in particular, the depth of Clemens and Steinbeck.

**FootNote II:  Based on the stated opinion of Earvin "Magic" Johnson when, asked in his opinion who is the greatest basketball player of all time.  Magic responded by naming some of those noted above and then added as if in afterthought, "Oh, and then there's Michael." Regarding certain athletes and other individuals who are found to be in prominence within their respective professions, inexperienced assumptions such as "they were born with talent" or "they naturally excell" and similar prejudice sometimes remains the shallow conclusion.  In truth, those who would aspire to greatness in a chosen field, whether in sports, intellectual pursuit, business, music, comedy, humanitarian effort or some other endeavor, must be willing to pay the price of far beyond normal dedication, including studying and practicing a very great many hours.  Even though he was born with a certain amount of what one might call "natural talent and ability", Magic Johnson became a very great basketball player because he worked very, very hard at being one---the same is undoubtedly true regarding all of the above mentioned individuals and a great many more.
What we see in our modern media is the end result of fame and fortune and what we often largely remain unaware of, is the tremendous personal sacrifice of most of those who achieve such.  If we wish then to excel in the historical reality of what matters, whether it be in actual name recognition or in the far greater importance of actually making a lasting, positive difference, then we must be willing, as the founder of Human and Civil Rights taught, to count the cost.  Those who are not willing to do so should be admiring rather than envious of the relatively few who are.  We should hold special respect and appreciation for individuals such as Earvin Magic Johnson, who achieve greatness both in their chosen profession and in the far greater importance of lasting positive influence, for to be considered good at what one does is an acclamation of achievement, but to have positive influence for what matters, is an achievement beyond human compliment.


           


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Copyright © August 20th, 2003 by Richard Aberdeen.

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