Los Angeles: Magic Johnson says he may have pulled the plug prematurely on his all-star NBA career after being diagnosed with the HIV virus but he has no regrets about leaving the sport when he did.
"At that time, it was the right decision," the former Los Angeles Laker player said on Monday on the 20th anniversary of his retirement. "If I knew what I knew today, that I could still play basketball and do my thing, I probably wouldn't have retired.
"But I'm a guy that doesn't have regrets. I don't look back. I'm happy, because I wanted to be here a long time. We made the right call at that time."
The three-time NBA MVP Johnson was honoured at a luncheon Monday at Staples Center arena which was attended by former Laker greats like Michael Cooper and James Worthy, hall-of-famer Jerry West, politicians and celebrities.
Johnson has been an advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and testing since his retirement and his foundation also announced Monday a $1 million gift to continue its work towards battling the disease.
Johnson shocked the NBA community when he announced at age 32 he had the virus. Johnson's doctors now say at age 52 he's managing the disease with a daily regime of exercise and drug treatment.
"I often say I'm good for the virus, and bad for it," Johnson said. "Good because I'm doing well, and that I can go out and try and raise the awareness level, get people to go get tested.
"But on the flip side of that, people see that I'm doing well, so they've kind of relaxed on HIV and AIDS. People think that now if they get the virus, they'll do well, but a couple million will die this year."
While he once took 15 pills several times a day, he now requires just a few daily medications.
Worthy paid tribute to Johnson saying he learnt a great deal from watching how Johnson managed his health and educated others about AIDS/HIV.
"When he announced, it was a reality check, because at that time, it could have been anybody," Worthy said. "A lot of people started to wonder about themselves, especially people who had never been tested before.
"He's taught us all a valuable lesson. Back in the early '90s, you thought it was a death (sentence). You thought it was over. To see him put meaning on a disease that only had one meaning, that was great."
Johnson is a 12-time NBA all-star who appeared in nine NBA finals. He is the NBA's all-time leader in assists per game, with an average of 11.2. He also won a gold medal with the United States team at the 1992 Olympics.