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Magic Johnson and Larry Bird appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman last night and spoke about Johnson’s HIV diagnosis and their long term friendship. Johnson spoke about the day in 1991 that he announced to the public that he was HIV positive at a time when AIDS was considered an automatic death sentence. The two became close friends when they were seen as the best players in basketball. The Huffington Post reports:

When Magic Johnson held a press conference announcing that he was HIV-positive in 1991, popular perception was that this was essentially a death sentence. HIV leads to AIDS and there’s simply no coming back from that. But Magic Johnson is still alive and doing well, appearing on “Late Show” (Weeknights, 11:35 p.m. ET on CBS) with his long-time friend and one-time rival Larry Bird.

The two became close friends due to a rivalry that developed beginning in 1979 and through the 1980s as the two of them were among the best players in basketball. That rivalry came with a mutual respect that blossomed into a genuine friendship. One that was firmly solidified by the time of Johnson’s announcement.

“The best feeling is when a friend supports you,” Johnson said of Bird after the announcement. “And this young man came and supported me. Forget the sports, forget the championships, forget the MVP. He came to my side and supported me and I’ll never forget that.”

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