No Longer ‘Kissin’ Cousins’

By Tim Reynolds
Updated: October 23, 2009

MIAMI — Hall of Fame players Isiah Thomas and Magic Johnson famously kissed moments before tip-off of Game 1 of the 1988 NBA finals.

Today, the relationship clearly isn’t anywhere near as close.

Thomas told earlier this week that he is “really hurt” over criticisms levied by Johnson in a new book chronicling the careers of Johnson and Larry Bird.

According to Thursday’s report, Johnson said Thomas questioned his sexuality after the former Laker star retired in 1991 after being diagnosed with HIV.

Johnson also tells the Web site that he helped play a role in keeping Thomas off the 1992 U.S. Olympic team.

“Isiah killed his own chances when it came to the Olympics,” Johnson said, according to “Nobody on that team wanted to play with him. … Michael didn’t want to play with him. Scottie (Pippen) wanted no part of him. Bird wasn’t pushing for him. Karl Malone didn’t want him. Who was saying, ‘We need this guy?’ Nobody.’”

Thomas, now coaching at FIU in Miami, said he declined a chance to be interviewed for the book. According to its index, he appears on at least 26 pages of the book, which Johnson and Bird wrote with author Jackie MacMullan.

“I’m really hurt, and I really feel taken advantage of for all these years,” Thomas told “I’m totally blindsided by this. Every time that I’ve seen Magic, he has been friendly with me.”

FIU had no immediate comment. Thomas’ spokesman said the remarks were accurate. Thomas was scheduled to be available to reporters later Thursday night at an alumni event.

The book comments by Johnson are the latest salvo in a strained relationship, once made famous by the pre-Finals kiss and a pair of crowdpleasing 1-on-1 battles in the final moments of the 1992NBA All-Star game.

Last fall, Johnson said he would not recommend Thomas for any other NBA jobs, after Thomas’ stints with both the Pacers and Knicks were rocky at times — particularly so in New York.

“I wish he would have had the courage to say this stuff to me face to face, as opposed to writing it in some damn book to sell and he can make money off it,” Thomas said.

Thomas also told that he did not question Johnson’s sexuality, adding that Johnson “acted and responded off some really bad information that he got.”