Today in Sports History: February 9th

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(Magic Johnson attempts a layup. Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

2/09/1992 - Magic comes back at All-Star Game

Three months after his shocking announcement that was infected with the AIDS virus, Magic Johnson plays in the NBA All-Star Game. Johnson had been retired since that fateful November afternoon, but the fans had voted him into the starting lineup and Johnson elected to give it one more go. There was initially some controversy, as some questioned if Johnson should be allowed to play in the game. Most of the players relented with the assurances that it was fine, and by the end of the game, no one was upset that Johnson was on the roster.

Though the game ended in a 153-113 blowout, the end of the game was pure excitement. After not scoring since the end of the second quarter, Magic Johnson finished the game with three consecutive three-pointers interspersed with a no-look pass to Dan Majerle. On defense, the rest of the players cleared out so that Johnson could go one-on-one with Isiah Thomas and then, to the crowd's delight, Michael Jordan. The game ended with Magic Johnson taking and making an off-balanced three -- the final shot of the game. Never had a crowd been more into a game where a team was leading by 40.

Johnson finished with 25 points, nine assists, and five rebounds and took home the game MVP. It was a phenomenal way to bookend the career of one of the most beloved athletes in sports history. In 1996, Johnson briefly returned to play with the Los Angeles Lakers.

"When Magic announced that he was going to play, I was skeptical like everyone else, at first," said Blazers All-Star Clyde Drexler, who finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and six assists. "But once it was confirmed that everything was safe and he was going to play, everyone in the United States who knows anything about basketball was extremely happy with today. I would much rather have Magic as MVP than myself. It's the best way to honor him and he deserves it."

"People with this virus can live on -- that's the message," Johnson said. "They can run, they can jump. Second of all, you don't have to worry about me playing. You can't get it from hugging, kissing, elbows, and high fives. Life doesn't stop because something happens to you."

2/09/2003 - Jordan's moment not so momentous

The 2003 All-Star Game was intended to be Michael Jordan's cou de gras. Jordan, on comeback tour No. 2, was playing on an average Washington Wizards team that would wind up missing the playoffs. It was there, amongst all the other players, that Jordan was supposed to have one last shining moment, as he was set to retire after the season. Raptors guard Vince Carter even relinquished his starting spot to Jordan, so His Airness could get a little more playing time.

At first, it looked like the script was a complete disaster. Jordan took a whopping 27 shots and made only nine of them. He scored just 20 points, though it was enough to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in All-Star Game history.

However, for one brief moment, everything seemed to fit together perfectly. With 4.8 seconds remaining in overtime, Jordan knocked down a fading baseline jumper over Shawn Marion to give the Eastern Conference a 138-136 lead. The Atlanta crowd immediately erupted in cheers. It seemed that all those missed shots had actually been worth something: it had allowed the score to be close enough for Jordan to hit a game-winning shot.

Had the game ended at that very second, the 2003 All-Star Game would have been remembered as a classic. Unfortunately, the final 4.8 seconds played on. On the West's next possession, Jermaine O'Neal fouled Kobe Bryant on a three-point attempt. Bryant made two of three, tied the game at 138, and spoiled Jordan's heroics. In double-overtime, the West prevailed, 155-145.

Kevin Garnett, who scored 37 points on 17-24 shooting, was the game's MVP.

"I felt the pressure from everybody in the building, and it was fun," Jordan later said. "It's a good way for me to leave the game and say, 'You know what, it's time for me to go home and watch the rest of these kids play.'"

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(Rasheed Wallace in his only game with Atlanta. Photo courtesy of AP Photos)

2/09/2004 – Rasheed (briefly) traded to hawks

In an effort to rebuild the team, the Portland Trail Blazers trade Rasheed Wallace to the Atlanta Hawks for Shareef Abdur-Rahim. In 2000, Wallace was the star player on the Blazers team that won 59 games and nearly made it to the NBA Finals. But since then, the Blazers had become a team of malcontents and drug users, thus earning the nickname "Jail Blazers." Wallace was considered issue No. 1 on the Blazers roster; not only had he been arrested on marijuana charges, he was infamous for his enormous amount of technical fouls.

The Blazers found their groove with Abdur-Rahim and got better as the season went on. But they lost their final four games of the season, and wound up missing the postseason for the first time in 21 years. As for Rasheed, his stay in Atlanta was brief. He only played one game with the Hawks before being traded to the Detroit Pistons for Bobby Sura in a salary dump.

Wallace gave the Pistons a low-post presence that they hadn’t had before. Detroit won 20 of 23 games at one point and became instant contenders. They got through the Eastern Conference and shocked the heavily-favored Lakers in the NBA Finals. By winning a championship and remaining as a power in the East in future years, the Pistons acquisition of Rasheed is considered one of the best deadline-day deals ever.

2/09/2006 - Disney trades Michaels for rabbit

John Madden had already agreed to work with NBC when ABC's license with the NFL expired. His broadcast partner, Al Michaels, wanted to follow but he was still under contract with ABC. So in order for Michaels to travel to NBC, ABC proposed a trade with the peacock network. What got in return was pretty hairy.

To read more about this story, click here for an in-depth Inhistoric article:

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