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Magic Johnson now can fight the flu with some...

By IAN LOVE, UPI Sports Writer

PONTIAC, Mich. -- Magic Johnson now can fight the flu with some of Mom's home cooking.

Johnson, a native of Lansing, Mich. who plays for the defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, will return to the area where he grew up for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the league championship series scheduled for Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. After losing the opening game, Los Angeles assured the series will be extended to at least a fifth game with a 108-96 victory in Game 2 Thursday.

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The All-Star guard has been battling a bug that first waylaid him after the Lakers' loss at the Forum on Tuesday.

'I don't wish this on anybody,' Johnson said. 'The other night I had the chills and was sweating a lot and having to go trotting about every twenty minutes to the bathroom. The fever is gone, but it still is in my stomach and I'm still doing my routine to the bathroom. The doctor said I should be better by the weekend.'

He did not practice Wednesday or come to the shootaround Thursday morning and was questionable to even play Thursday night.

'Earvin showed the heart of a champion,' Laker Coach Pat Riley said.

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In a performance Johnson thought was beyond himself, he played 42 minutes, scored 23 points and had 11 assists, and probably what was most important, showed his teammates how much he wants to win another championship.

'When I came (to the Forum) I didn't think I would be able to play 42 minutes. The doctor did a good job at halftime, pumping me full of fluids. The team looks up to me and if I'm up, they are going to go.

'If I showed my teammates I was sick on the floor it would be a big letdown for them. I had to just fight through it and go all out.'

One person Johnson wasn't about to fight with was his mother. She flew from Lansing to visit and left Thursday night on the redeye, presumably to begin cooking for her son and the team as she always does when they come to town.

'My mother came to kiss me and I said, 'Ma I got the flu,' and turned my head to kiss her cheek. She straightened my face and said, 'I raised you and I brought you into this world and I can handle this,'' Johnson said.

'She's going to make everything -- sweet potato pie, homemade rolls, everything. When we first got into the finals, that was the first thing the team yelled, sweet potato pie.

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With every homecoming, there are family and friends to meet and memories that are rekindled. Growing up, Johnson dreamed of playing for the Pistons along side his idol Dave Bing.

'Being a Detroit Piston fan, I always thought I would play for Detroit first. Then being a Dave Bing worshipper, seeing him running up and down the court for so many years, you get excited.

'You say, man, Can you really picture that I am actually going home to play for the world championship?

'But I have to come to reality too, because I am going to be the enemy and I'm going to be booed.'

He is also going to be inundated with ticket requests -- and that is where Dad comes in.

'If (the ticket requests) were going to be coming to me, I would be going crazy, so I pushed all that on my Dad. I told him, 'You deal with it. What I get and what I can buy, you handle them.'

'I get to see everybody even though it may be only for a minute because I've got a job to do.

'It's going to be wild and crazy. That's what I like about Michigan.'

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Johnson, a native of Lansing, Mich. who plays for the depending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers, will return to the area where he grew up for Games 3, 4 and 5 of the league championship series scheduled for Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday. After losing the opening game, Los Angeles assured the series will be extended to at least a fifth game with a 117-110 victory in Game 2 Thursday.

The All-Star guard has been battling a bug that first waylaid him after the Lakers' loss at the Forum on Tuesday.

'I don't wish this on anybody,' Johnson said. 'The other night I had the chills and was sweating a lot and having to go trotting about every twenty minutes to the bathroom. The fever is gone, but it still is in my stomach and I'm still doing my routine to the bathroom. The doctor said I should be better by the weekend.'

He did not practice Wednesday or come to the shootaround Thursday morning and was questionable to even play Thursday night.

'Earvin showed the heart of a champion,' Laker Coach Pat Riley said.

In a performance Johnson thought was beyond himself, he played 42 minutes, scored 23 points and had 11 assists, and probably what was most important, showed his teammates how much he wants to win another championship.

Advertisement

'When I came (to the Forum) I didn't think I would be able to play 42 minutes. The doctor did a good job at halftime, pumping me full of fluids. The team looks up to me and if I'm up, they are going to go.

'If I showed my teammates I was sick on the floor it would be a big letdown for them. I had to just fight through it and go all out.'

One person Johnson wasn't about to fight with was his mother. She flew from Lansing to visit and left Thursday night on the redeye, presumably to begin cooking for her son and the team as she always does when they come to town.

'My mother came to kiss me and I said, 'Ma I got the flu,' and turned my head to kiss her cheek. She straightened my face and said, 'I raised you and I brought you into this world and I can handle this,'' Johnson said.

'She's going to make everything -- sweet potato pie, homemade rolls, everything. When we first got into the finals, that was the first thing the team yelled, sweet potato pie.

With every homecoming, there are family and friends to meet and memories that are rekindled. Growing up, Johnson dreamed of playing for the Pistons along side his idol Dave Bing.

Advertisement

'Being a Detroit Piston fan, I always thought I would play for Detroit first. Then being a Dave Bing worshipper, seeing him running up and down the court for so many years, you get excited.

'You say, man, Can you really picture that I am actually going home to play for the world championship?

'But I have to come to reality too, because I am going to be the enemy and I'm going to be booed.'

He is also going to be inundated with ticket requests -- and that is where Dad comes in.

'If (the ticket requests) were going to be coming to me, I would be going crazy, so I pushed all that on my Dad. I told him, 'You deal with it. What I get and what I can buy, you handle them.'

'I get to see everybody even though it may be only for a minute because I've got a job to do.

'It's going to be wild and crazy. That's what I like about Michigan.'

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