Magic Johnson Says He Wanted To Hit Howard Stern After Racist 1998 Interview


Stern told Johnson he was “Blacker” than him, made fun of the way Black people spoke, and mocked his HIV diagnosis. “At least you had fun getting AIDS,” he said.

There have been dozens of comedians who have spoken out against Will and Jada Pinkett Smith in recent days, including shock-jock radio host Howard Stern. The comedian is known for his outlandish and often offensive takes, but he didn’t believe that Smith slapping Chris Rock on the Oscars stage was a laughing matter. He took to his show to slam Smith, saying, “He decided he’s gonna take matters into his own hands — at a time when the world is at war. Bad timing, man. I mean, calm your f*ckng a** down.”

Meanwhile, a classic and controversial moment from Stern’s past has been brought to light amid his criticism and it was revisited thanks to Magic Johnson. Back in 1998, the NBA mogul hosted The Magic Hour, a late-night talk show, and Stern wasn’t a fan. He repeatedly took to his own show to insult Johnson’s hosting aspirations and in an effort to stack up ratings, Johnson’s network brought Stern on as a guest.

The entire exchange has gone down in cringe-worthy history as Stern unleashed in all of his unfiltered glory. 

“The thing you need to work on, in my estimation, is that you’ve gotta stop trying to talk like the white man,” Stern said to the Los Angeles Lakers icon. “Everybody’s anti-Ebonics. I say, let it fly. What you need to do, my brotha, is to really get down with it. You talk Ebonics all you want.”

“Listen, you’re a Black man. I grew up in a Black neighborhood. I’m Blacker than you are, trust me. I’m the Blackest Black man you’ll ever meet, and I’m telling you right now, when I lived in Roosevelt, Long Island, which is a Black ghetto, everybody talked like this.” He also impersonated Black people and how they speak. “I was a big marble mouth, but it was fascinating, because I was one of the people. Why does everybody have to understand every word you say? Who cares what you got to say? No difference what you say.”

If that wasn’t bad enough, Stern also touched on Johnson being HIV positive, telling him that he “had the life I wanted.” Stern added, “These were white chicks? Black chicks? What do we got? What did you prefer? You would have sex with everybody? At least you had fun getting AIDS.” Johnson told him there was nothing fun about it.

In a recent interview with Variety, Johnson revealed that at the time, he wanted to hit Stern right there. 

“I wanted to say something and hit him at the same time — on air,” Johnson shared. “I was mad when they booked him, but there’s nothing you can do. When people look for ratings, this is what happens… I’ve never put myself — or HIV and AIDS, or my race — in that position again, ever again.”

If you want to take a look at that vintage episode, check it out below.

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