On Tuesday night (Dec. 19), one of the most storied player rivalries in NBA history ended as longtime Laker great, Magic Johnson, and Piston legend, Isiah Thomas, ended their nearly 30 year-long feud.
During an emotional episode of the NBA TV special, Player’s Only Monthly, Johnson extended his former-friend, turned longtime enemy, Thomas an apology in one of the sincerest moments in sports history. “You are my brother,” Johnson said to Thomas as both of their eyes began to water. “Let me apologize if I hurt you, that we haven’t been together and God is good to bring us back together.”
Prior to the late 80s, Thomas was seen as one of the brightest and more popular stars of the NBA. Johnson and he had a great relationship, viewed by many– even themselves –as best friends. They were frequently seen hanging out even exchanging their iconic cheek kiss during a heated final series against each other.
The origins of their feud link back to Johnson’s revelations in the 2009 book When The Game Was Ours ,which he co-wrote with longtime friend and on-court rival, Larry Bird.
Johnson shared off the heels of his HIV diagnosis in 1991 that Thomas questioned his sexuality with assumptions that Thomas spread the rumor about Johnson’s personal life. Johnson also admitted in the book that he played a part in keeping Thomas off the 1992 Olympic Dream team.
“I’m just disappointed and hurt,” Thomas told The Associated Press at the time of the book’s release. “I never thought it was him who kept me off the Olympic team. That hurt.”
And although the truth about the rumors will probably never be disclosed, many people close to the two have been anticipating the moment that happened on Tuesday.
“This has been a tremendous day,” Johnson explained. “My wife, my mother, my father have been saying y’all need to get back together.”
Johnson and Thomas’ reconciliation proves that although sports can become more than a game, there is nothing more important than forgiveness.
Check out the heartwarming moment above.