Fair warning: if you were a basketball fan in the 1980s and ’90s, this video may get you in your feelings.
Magic Johnson of the Lakers and Isiah Thomas of the Pistons were once two of the best point guards in the NBA. They were also very close friends—a rarity among rivals during that era of the NBA, though the behavior has now become commonplace in the league.
Their friendship fell apart, though. When they met in the 1988 Finals, “that friendship stuff went out the window,” Thomas recollected in the Bad Boys 30 for 30. It started with an elbow from Magic, which led to a tussle and some general animosity.
That animosity was heightened when the Pistons got revenge the following year, sweeping the Lakers in the 1989 Finals. Things only got worse when Magic pulled some strings to keep Thomas off of the Olympic team in 1992—the team that went on to become known as the Dream Team. This was reportedly because Thomas helped spread a rumor that Magic was gay or bisexual.
All’s well that ends well, though, and it appears time has healed the wounds of this relationship. On Tuesday, NBATV aired a special conversation between the two that ended in tears. See the video above for a clip of the footage.
“Just to sit across from you and relive the moments of fun, excellence, working hard, dreaming big…who sits up at 19, 20, 21, dreaming of stuff we want to do, and now we’re here doing it,” Magic said. “You are my brother. Let me apologize to you if I hurt you, that we haven’t been together, and God is good to bring us back together.”
As Thomas cried, Johnson said, “I know, man. It hurt me, too.”
The two Hall of Famers are legends of the game, and it’s great to see the initial steps have been taken to gradually piece their relationship back together.