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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT

New Cain Bombshell; Obama in JFK's Shadow; Shaq Retires after 19 Years in NBA; Magic HIV Positive for 20 Years

Aired November 28, 2011 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


PIERS MORGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight Herman Cain bombshell. A third woman speaks out. She says she had a 13-year affair with the candidate. Cain says oh, no, she didn't.

WOLF BLITZER, ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Did you have a 13-year affair with this woman?

HERMAN CAIN (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. I did not.

BLITZER: Did you know her for 13 years?

CAIN: Yes. But I did not have an affair.

MORGAN: I'll ask Gloria Allred, the attorney for the first accuser to speak out, what she makes of the claim.

Plus an administration under fire. Conservatives outraged, the left turning against him. Is this 2011 or 1963? I'll ask Frank Rich why he says there's something surprising that Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy have in common.

And the NBA has come home for Christmas. And are the fans getting stiffed? Tonight two of the league's biggest superstars are here to discuss. Shaquille O'Neal on the end of a lockout and his extraordinary 19-year career.

SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, NBA LEGEND: Nineteen years, baby.

MORGAN: And the player so good he could only be called Magic. The one and only Magic Johnson on the game he still loves and on the causes closest to his heart.

This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.

Good evening. We'll get to my interviews with Shaquille O'Neal and Magic Johnson later in the show. I want to ask both of them what they think of the deal to end the NBA lockout. Were they as aggrieved as I was about this lengthy delay. And also the crisis in college sports in America.

But first, another Herman Cain he said-she said story. A businesswoman says she had a 13-year affair with Cain. She said she knew he was married and she tells TV station WAGA the relationship was, quote, "a very inappropriate situation." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GINGER WHITE, CLAIMS 13-YEAR AFFAIR WITH CAIN: It was pretty simple. It was uncomplicated. And I was aware that he was married. And I was also aware that I was involved in a very inappropriate situation, relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Herman Cain denies the accusation. Listen to what he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer a little while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Did you have a 13-year affair with this woman?

CAIN: No. I did not.

BLITZER: Did you know her for 13 years?

CAIN: Yes. But I did not have an affair, OK? And until I see and hear exactly what's going to be -- what the accusations are going to be made, let's move on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Wolf Blitzer joins me now.

Wolf, an extraordinary twist today because you weren't expecting him to come out with that until halfway through your interview, is that right?

BLITZER: Right. I didn't know -- I had known going into the interview earlier in the day that WAGA, the Atlanta TV station, said they were going to have some sort of major news on the political -- the political campaign story. They didn't say what it was. When I heard that it was an Atlanta station, I suspected maybe it had something to do with one of the two Georgia politicians who are running -- Newt Gingrich is from Georgia, Herman Cain is from Georgia.

But I didn't know anything that they were going to do. It wasn't until Herman Cain came to the CNN Washington bureau when we were doing a live interview. Just before the interview, he mentioned to one of our producers, there is something I'm going to want to talk to Wolf about. He wanted to get out in front about this story. They told me what was going on. And it's at that point I said -- I said to him what I knew at the time. And obviously, the rest is history.

MORGAN: I mean, what is rather strange about this is that his lawyer went public pretty quickly and said this kind of allegation is a private matter, but there was no denial. And yet he, to you directly -- and we'll play the clip again here -- is emphatic. Let's hear this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: It was someone who was supposed to be a friend, but obviously they didn't see it as a friendship.

BLITZER: And when you say friend, was it a -- I mean I'm asking these awkward questions but I'll ask you the questions you're going to be asked. Was this an affair?

CAIN: No, it was not.

BLITZER: There was no sex?

CAIN: No.

BLITZER: None?

CAIN: No.

BLITZER: And if this woman says there is, she's lying? Is that what you --

CAIN: Wolf, let's see what the story is going to be.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: So there we have it. I mean the woman says 13-year affair which we assume would include a lot of sex. He says emphatically no affair, no sex. But his lawyer makes no attempt to deny the allegations and says, this kind of allegation is a private matter.

What do you make of all this, Wolf?

BLITZER: It was very strange because Lynn Wood who is a prominent lawyer in Atlanta, he's well known to a lot of TV viewers out there. He's had some very high profile cases. He said in the last sentence of this statement that they knew that by his refusing to comment on a personal relationship, it could cause consternation or concerns in the media or whatever -- I'm paraphrasing what he said.

But he didn't deny the affair at all. He said whatever happened was private between these two individuals, but as you heard, Herman Cain had no such inhibitions. He flatly denied any of these accusations. He said absolutely no affair at all, no sexual relationship. It was simply a friendship, if you will.

MORGAN: He did seem to get reasonably emotional when he discussed his wife. Let's listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CAIN: I'm more worried that this is going to hurt my wife and my family because it's going to be proved that it was probably something else that was baseless. And the court of public opinion does not consider that when they want to pass that judgment.

I can take the lumps. I expected this kind of stuff when I made the decision to run for president of the United States of America. But the thing that I'm worried about is the impact it's going to have on my wife and my family because they should not be subjected to false accusations that cannot be proved.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: I mean this is very high stakes, isn't it, Wolf? Because he's already been hit by a number of other allegations of harassment. He's denied them all. Now a 13-year affair. This is a completely different category of allegation. This involves deceit against his wife going over a decade, and he is saying absolutely no truth.

She has come out with text messages. She apparently provided the station with his cell phone number. They texted him on that number. He replied immediately. You know, clearly, they have a relationship. The question is, I guess, can she prove it was inappropriate?

BLITZER: Yes. And we're going to find out a lot more about this woman, Ginger White, in the next few days, I'm sure. Everyone is going to be looking at her credibility. Would she make up a story like this? Would she have any incentive to do so? I'm sure Herman Cain is going to be asked a lot of questions about this.

You want to be president of the United States, you're bound to get these kinds of questions. And when these women start coming forward -- two women publicly accusing him of sexual harassment, now this third woman saying they had a 13-year affair -- it's going to continue to plague him.

He says he's going to fight on, he's going to run for the Republican nomination. But I did press him and he did say at one point -- he said, look -- I said, would you ever drop out? He left open the possibility that if this was having a really, really awful impact on his family, on his wife, he would consider that, although he seemed to insist that he would fight on at least for now.

We'll see what happens.

MORGAN: Let's take a quick look at what Ginger White, who is the woman making these allegations, and what she said to WAGA earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WHITE: He made it very intriguing. It was fun. It was something that took me away from my sort of humdrum life at the time. And it was exciting. Very much the same. Very much confident. And very much sure of himself. Very arrogant in a playful sometimes way. Very Herman Cain loves Herman Cain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: And Herman Cain has made a statement tonight, Wolf, saying that, "Detractors are trying once again to derail the Cain train with more accusations of past events that never happened. The Cain campaign is not surprised another female accuser has come forward due to the fact that earlier allegations were unable to force Herman Cain to drop his presidential bid to renew America." So, you know, staking basically I would say his entire reputation now on the veracity of this woman's story. Because if it turns out that he is lying about this affair, you would have to imagine that would be the end of his campaign, wouldn't it?

BLITZER: Well, you know, you remember the Anthony Weiner case. The congressman from New York.

MORGAN: I do.

BLITZER: He was on television. I interviewed him a couple of days before he acknowledged yes, all the allegations were basically true. But he looked into that camera and he lied directly. Now Herman Cain comes out in the next few days and says yes, he did have an affair, that would have a huge impact on his efforts to try to become the Republican presidential nominee, especially given the conservative base of the Republican Party out there. They probably would turn against him. But I suspect it won't take very long for the truth to emerge.

MORGAN: I think you're right, Wolf. Thanks very much indeed.

BLITZER: Thanks, Piers.

MORGAN: Now I want to bring in Gloria Allred. She represents Sharon Bialek who accused Herman Cain of sexually harassing her back in the '90s.

Gloria, welcome back. What do you make of today's new revelations involving Herman Cain?

GLORIA ALLRED, REPRESENTS CAIN ACCUSER SHARON BIALEK: Well, Piers, certainly if these allegations by Miss White are true, then it certainly goes to the issue of the character and the honesty of Herman Cain.

And I have to ask, how many more skeletons are there in his closet? And what happens if more come out? When is Herman Cain going to come clean with the American public? He's now accused a total of five women of being liars. And Miss White is just the latest that he's accused of lying.

I think that the American people are going to be able to make a judgment if they have not already done so.

MORGAN: I mean there are some details about Ginger White that have emerged tonight. She filed a sexual harassment claim against an employer in 2001 that was settled. She has a history of financial problems. She's been evicted from apartments and filed for bankruptcy.

Does any of this matter, Gloria? I mean, is it really credible that a woman would make a charge of a 13-year affair if there was simply no truth at all to it?

ALLRED: Now apparently she has quite a bit of corroboration in the form of at least numerous texts, perhaps e-mails, perhaps other evidence from Herman Cain. And does the fact that she's had financial troubles matter? Zero, zip, nada. There are millions of women in this country and millions of men as well having financial problems.

The fact that she's had them in the past does not bear on whether or not she is credible on this issue. As I understand it, she was concerned that people were getting in touch with her, finding out. And she also didn't like Herman Cain's attacks on the women who have come forward. And she decided that it was time to just come forward and tell the truth, as she knows it, as she's lived it.

I'm very proud of her, just in the same way I'm proud of my client Sharon Bialek, that she stepped up and provided what she had to say to the American people. And I think Herman Cain has still a lot of questions to answer.

He can't put this genie back in the bottle. He can't put the women back in there, Piers. They're not going to be silent any more. And if he's upset, he thinks other people are trying to derail him, he's the one who started driving this train down the track. And if anybody is taking it off the track, it's him and his past.

MORGAN: I mean, Herman Cain has denied all these allegation. He has survived the harassment charges and there is an argument, as it's been put forward by his own legal team that this is consensual, this affair, if it's true, and if it is a consensual affair, then it's a private matter.

ALLRED: So in other words, he's saying or is his team saying it's OK to be an adulterer and that doesn't matter to the American people? I'd like to hear him answer the question of whether it should have mattered to the American people when President Clinton had a relationship outside of his marriage apparently with Monica Lewinsky?

I'm waiting for the answer to that question from Herman Cain.

MORGAN: In light of what's come out today, Gloria, are you planning any further action with your client?

ALLRED: Not with my client, but I do feel that she is extremely credible and her corroborating witness, one of them, Dr. Zuckerman, the pediatrician, came forward. And of course we had a news conference with him. And he said that in fact he was the one who suggested that she contact Herman Cain to help her with employment.

That in fact, he was there with her when they had numerous conversations with Herman Cain at the National Restaurant Association, and that she told him -- that is Dr. Zuckerman -- about the inappropriate sexual advances that Cain allegedly made to her not long after those advances were made.

So Dr. Zuckerman has backed her up. And the fact that that he said Cain that he never even met my client, didn't know her, had shown to be patently false.

MORGAN: Gloria Allred, thank you very much indeed. ALLRED: Thank you.

MORGAN: Coming up next Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy. The surprising thing these two leaders have in common. I'll ask Frank Rich about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: On the day Barack Obama took office the comparisons to John F. Kennedy began immediately. Both young, both groundbreaking in their own way, both with attractive families. There's something else, something surprising that the two leaders may have in common.

And Frank Rich who compared the presidencies in an article in "New York Magazine" joins me to explain what it is.

Frank, a fascinating piece.

FRANK RICH, COLUMNIST, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Thank you.

MORGAN: And the parallels are pretty obvious. I mean 1963 seems a long way away, but actually in terms of racial tension, of economic inequality, a lot of parallels there.

RICH: There are a lot of parallels there. And also there -- in the early '60s during the Kennedy administration was really the birth of the radical right, as we know it today. The John Birch society, what would become the Goldwater movement and, famously, of course, Kennedy went to Dallas against the advice of people close to him right into that nutty atmosphere where people were accusing him of treason.

Sort of like the birther craziness today that people thought he was an illegitimate president. A communist possibly. A -- as a Roman Catholic. There was a lot of discrimination then in the United States. And so it was a sort of savage atmosphere that Obama has inherited today.

MORGAN: So in your experience, I mean, is Obama facing anything new here in terms of the level of viciousness and the level of partisan disapproval, partisan fury, if you like? Is this new or does it just seem new?

RICH: It seems new. First of all, there's been partisan fury in this country since the Hallowed Founding Fathers. That's always been the case. People like Thomas Jefferson were despised and ridiculed in some quarters. So of course was Lincoln later on. But this particular flavor, it's not new, but the genesis of it was about 50 years ago coming out of the Eisenhower years when this new radical movement that really was so unalterably opposed to government took charge and started to organize and the centerpieces of it back then were Orange County, California, and Texas.

Now it's a much bigger movement. In 1963, the year that Kennedy died, there was polling that showed 5 percent of Americans supported the extreme right-wing views of the John Birch society. Now we have a major political -- major political party, the Republicans, where that's the base.

There's a -- much more than 5 percent subscribing to these extreme views and reflecting it in ways like shouting out, "you lie," when Obama speaks before Congress.

MORGAN: I mean, it seems to me, who obviously I'm not an American, I've come into this from Britain, where we have a lot of nonsense between politicians. But the level of intransigence in Washington right now seems so contrary to the national need in the sense that nothing seems to be getting done.

RICH: It's this complete disconnect between Washington and the rest of the country. And I think if there's anything that even has polarized America that both political parties or voters of both parties agree about -- not to mention independents -- is that Washington is a cesspool.

Congress has a 9 percent approval rating in a recent poll. And that tells -- and that was before the breakdown of this so-called Super Committee that was anything but super. And not really a committee actually. And so you have a country that's in enormous economic distress, that is still fighting a major war, arguably several, which is heating up.

And you have a dysfunctional -- dysfunctional is too weak a word. You have a nonfunctional government in Washington that now has essentially adjourned until Election Day 2012 because certainly nothing positive is going to happen during this campaign season.

MORGAN: Let's turn to the GOP, Frank. I mean there's been a lot of shuffling of the pack here. That they -- the constant is that Mitt Romney is the most popular but can't seem to raise the bar of his popularity above a certain level, about 25 percent of the votes, that are coming in.

In terms of Newt Gingrich, he's billing himself now as the conservative candidate, clearly playing on this sense that Mitt Romney isn't a proper conservative.

Who do you think right now Barack Obama would least want to face?

RICH: I think, frankly, that Obama's biggest opponent is the economy. I think he's blessed in all of these potential opponents. We all know about Gingrich's deficiencies, his going off on halfcocked theories. His temper, his ego, his kind of snide demeanor which has been quite evident in these debates, not to mention the hypocrisies about Fannie Mae and all the money he's collected, all of that.

But who's -- who's the prize here? The problem with Romney -- Romney would seem to be the ideal Republican candidate. He looks like a Republican candidate for president. He's a moderate conservative, I guess, to the extent that we know what he really stands for, but the problem with Romney for the Republican Party is less his ideology and the fact that people just don't like him.

I think that's really the problem. And your own party doesn't like you either because they think you're a flip flopper, they think you're not conservative enough or something people don't want to say out loud, they don't like your religion, unfair as that prejudice is, you've got -- you've got a problem.

And so all of these other candidates are more conservative than him, but they're also flakier. So they don't really have a great choice there. And I -- you know, the Chris Christie boomlet that lasted 10 minutes was an example of their desperation for a miracle that someone, Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, someone -- some Deus Ex Machina will descend from the heaven and rescue them from this entire field. But I don't think that's going to happen.

MORGAN: Herman Cain has been hit today by a further allegation of sexual impropriety with another woman. Is he terminally shot below the bows now, do you think, in terms of this ongoing series of scandals about his private life?

RICH: You'd think so. This year is so crazy, this cycle is so crazy in that party, who knows? But I would say, yes. I mean, his numbers have been falling and even in his own party and among conservatives, and particularly among Republican women and women in general, his numbers have been falling.

Was he ever a serious contender to begin with? I don't even know the answer to that. The guy is a motivational speaker who ran a business, has never held serious office. To me it's as ridiculous as the Donald Trump boomlet. And who -- you know, who's going to come up next? Chuckles the clown? I mean it's absurd, really.

MORGAN: I mean the one who's always impressed me but doesn't get much traction is Jon Huntsman. Why does he not get more attention?

RICH: I think most people don't know who he is. He's someone with actually a distinguished record of public service, moderately conservative but quite conservative views, you could argue more consistently conservative than Romney if you look at his whole career, but he doesn't really have a constituency within that party.

His main constituency is within the press. Everyone who's interviewed him and (INAUDIBLE) that likes him finds him smart. I may not agree with all of his views. But this is -- you know, he's running as a man of sanity in a crazy situation with this perpetual sort of "American Idol" version of American politics that is the Republican sweepstakes this year.

MORGAN: Frank Rich, as always, thank you very much indeed.

RICH: Thank you.

MORGAN: When we come back, the NBA deal, is it a good thing for the fans? Or should we all be furious at the naked greed of everyone concerned?

I'll ask two league legends, Shaquille O'Neal and Magic Johnson.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

O'NEAL: We did it. Nineteen years, baby. I want to thank you very much. That's why I'm telling you first I'm about to retire. Love you. Talk to you soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: Shaquille O'Neal's retirement announcement via Tout video. He's an NBA legend, he's called a star for 19 years. Pretty hard to imagine he won't be playing this year at all. Now he's an author of a new book, "Shaq Uncut: My Story." And he joins me now.

A lot of this, Shaq, is the inside fly leaf with all the names that you have attracted over the years. Superman, Diesel, the Big Aristotle, Shaq-fu, the Big Daddy, the Big Shaqtus, Wilt Chamber- Neezy, the Real Deal, the Big Shamrock and Shaq.

I like the Big Shaqtus, but which one of those do you particularly like?

O'NEAL: The new name that you just gave me.

MORGAN: Which one?

O'NEAL: The big duke.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: In England, you would be the big duke.

O'NEAL: That's right. That's right.

MORGAN: Or the very big duke.

O'NEAL: That's right.

MORGAN: How does it feel? Come on. You're not playing basketball.

O'NEAL: It feels good. I've been playing 19 years, accomplished a lot. Would have loved to accomplish more. But you know there comes a time in life whether you have to do something else.

MORGAN: Did it feel right, the moment to leave? I know it wasn't probably the perfect scripted ending, but do you feel inside you it's the time to go on?

O'NEAL: It felt right. I -- you know, I left on sort of a sour note. You know I tore my Achilles in half basically, and rehab for that would have been a year and a half. So you know, at the age of 40, trying to come back and play at a high level probably would have been, you know -- I would have had very, very low chances of doing that. So I just decided to give it up after 19 great years.

MORGAN: Taking up golf yet? O'NEAL: No, not at all.

MORGAN: That's the natural thing I would have thought for you, Shaq.

O'NEAL: Yes. Never. No.

(LAUGHTER)

O'NEAL: And I live on a golf course, too, but I haven't played in a while.

MORGAN: I should imagine you could hit it a long way. Get a big bertha out and boom.

Tell me about the NBA strike because as somebody who's not an American watching this great American sport on strike because a bunch of multimillionaires were having an argument with another bunch of multimillionaires over the odd million here or there, it seemed pretty selfish in the middle of a financial crisis. With 10 percent of people in this country unemployed, I was like, what are they up to, these guys?

O'NEAL: Well, you used the wrong choice of words. The strike is when the workers say, you know, we're not being treated fairly, we want to do something else. The lockout is when the owners say we don't like our deal. So in this case, it was a lockout. And you know both sides made interesting points, but President Obama said it the best that if millionaires and billionaires can't come to some sort of a deal and regular people lose their jobs, it will be very, very unfortunate.

But they finally got it done. Derrick Fisher did a great job, David Stern did a good job. And I think our first game are on Christmas Day.

MORGAN: It will be fun.

O'NEAL: Yes, it will be fun.

MORGAN: What do you think of Obama?

O'NEAL: You know he's the president, and you know, I come from a military background. And you know I'm all about respect. You know he does a -- he does a hard job. I wouldn't want that job personally. But you know, I have to show the man a lot of respect because he's the president of the United States.

MORGAN: I've asked a few -- a few guests this. And I'm intrigued by your answer. Do you think that having the first African- American president has made America more or less racist?

O'NEAL: I would say less. I mean, you know, Dr. Martin Luther King had this dream and this dream has finally come true. And you know it's a hard job. You know there's a lot of people in the world, and you can't please everybody. But I think he's doing a fabulous job. And you know the world is in a little bit of turmoil right now.

You know the economy is down. But you know he's going to pick it back up. He is going to pick it back up. And I think he's going to win this next election.

MORGAN: Do you?

O'NEAL: Yes, I do.

MORGAN: You've made a lot of money out of basketball, on the sport, and you're a great entrepreneur. You've made hundreds of millions of dollars. What has gone wrong with the American business model? When you've worked your way up from nothing to be what you are, what has happened to stop that kind of thing happening?

O'NEAL: I'm not sure. You know -- you know for me there's really two different types of business models. Like, you know, people like Steve Jobs and you know guys who build their company up from scratch. You know to me, they are the real businessmen.

I came into the business. And your next -- your next guy that's coming out here, Magic Johnson, was the one who taught me how to be a businessman. You know he was the one that's --

MORGAN: How to expand beyond the sport?

O'NEAL: Yes, yes. He told me, you know, it's OK to be famous, it's OK to be the man and all that. But you want to start owning things. So you know, my view of how to be a businessman is very different because I really consider myself a lucky businessman.

MORGAN: Let's take a little break and come back and talk about your early days. Because a fascinating story of how you ever got to be a basketball star and also whether you're going to be sending Kobe a nice Christmas card now that it's all over. And you can think about your answer. Be diplomatic.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: Back with my special guest Shaquille O'Neal.

Shaq, it's a fascinating book in many ways. And one thing that's interesting to me is the upbringing you had, pretty tough. You know, your father wasn't around. You had this tough stepfather who I think you have great respect for. But your mother really was the driving force, wasn't she, for allowing you, I guess, to live a dream that you've now lived.

O'NEAL: Yes, my mother was the driving force. She was the one who taught me how to believe and taught me how to dream. Something that I call dreamful attraction, you know, sort of deals with the laws of attraction. Whatever you think about will come true.

So, you know, my father was very hard. You know he was an army guy, career army guy. And you know, every spanking I got was deserved. You know, I was a high level juvenile delinquent. And if it wasn't for him and his tough love, I could have either went left or either went right. So you know I owe everything that I am today because of my parents.

MORGAN: But what do you make of these scandals at -- first Penn State, now Syracuse with these young kids. You had been in that position. You had been a young college basketball player and stuff. But it's pretty awful, isn't it, what's been going on?

O'NEAL: It's very awful. And you know my heart goes out to the -- you know, victims' families. You know something that was -- you know, very, very awful and shouldn't have happened.

MORGAN: Let's turn to your mate, Kobe Bryant. So I used to love the feud because, A, it made your team almost unbeatable when you were together. And B, you sort of need someone like that to get up in the morning. You want to be better than that. I mean, unless I'm mistaken, it wasn't that you hated him, you just both wanted to be top dog, right?

O'NEAL: And I'm glad you understood that. But when I was the leader, Hersey and Blanchard states that leadership styles vary when you're dealing with task or relationships. As a leader I was always focused on the task. And like you said, you know, we did certain thins, we said certain things that made everything excited. And like you said, it also made us unbeatable.

I mean I respect the guy, you know. He's the top Laker now. And you know, he's a great player. But when I was in charge, when I was leading, I was always worried about the task and the task was completed three out of four championships. That's all about it.

MORGAN: Who is the best player you've ever seen?

O'NEAL: I'll have to go with Michael Jordan. But you know I think sometimes that's an unfair question. Because the next guy that is coming in here, Magic Johnson, he was a great one, too. So was Larry Bird, and so was Kareem, and so was Bill Russell, so was Wilt Chamberlain. So --

MORGAN: Very important people that said in the back of this book.

O'NEAL: Yes.

MORGAN: That you were the most dominant player, they ever saw. The seems to be the key thing, physically imposing, dominant. There's never been a player like you. LeBron James, the most dominating force to ever play the game.

O'NEAL: And my parents always taught me to make people remember your name and be different. You know I'm not the most skilled guy, I'm not the best shooter, but I wanted people to remember me. So you know I just used to impose my will, impose my force and that camera guy right there used to be under the basket.

MORGAN: Really? O'NEAL: He knows -- yes, that man right there.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: We have all the best quality people here, Shaq.

O'NEAL: That's right.

MORGAN: What I've always wondered about you is, do you ever go out and people pick a fight with you?

O'NEAL: No.

MORGAN: I couldn't imagine it ever happening although there's some sort of weird suicide mission.

O'NEAL: And that's because people know that I'm very likable and they know that I'm a funny guy. And I can take a joke.

MORGAN: More to do with the fact that you're seven foot tall and could pummel them to pieces?

O'NEAL: Well, maybe a little bit.

(LAUGHTER)

O'NEAL: But you know, people from seeing me on TV and you know from seeing me on Tout, they know I'm a funny, likable guy. So you say a crazy joke with me, I'm going to say something back, we both laugh, we take a picture, and we move on.

MORGAN: It's a fascinating book, it's an amazing story. You've had an incredible career. When you look back on it, with the exception of the births of your kids and marriage and so on, what is being the one moment you would relive again, that's been the greatest moment?

O'NEAL: All of it. And if I --

MORGAN: Give me one. I've got five minutes I can replay.

O'NEAL: Just you know I'm very blessed to have two loving, caring parents. And I always tell people if I had it over to do again, I would do it exactly the same way. Because you know my father gave me the -- gave me the ability to learn how to think, to learn how to program, to learn how to navigate.

So I would do it all the same way. You know I had a great childhood. I was able to just sit back and dream and you know I met great people like Magic Johnson and Bill Russell or played in the best cities and I've led parades, and you know I get to meet a lot of people.

I watch you all the time. So, because of how my parents raised me, I'm up here now to be able to talk to a legend such as yourself.

MORGAN: Well, I couldn't have put it better myself, Shaq.

O'NEAL: That's right.

MORGAN: Thank you very much.

O'NEAL: All right.

MORGAN: Well, I think when it comes to legend, we said, as you are slightly higher up the legend ladder than me. But it's been a real pleasure.

O'NEAL: Thanks.

MORGAN: It's a great book. You've got to read this. It's a really inspiring tale.

O'NEAL: All right.

MORGAN: Thank you very much.

O'NEAL: It's getting better, my accent?

MORGAN: It is getting better.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: You're getting a bit like a cockney, a cockney duke.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: Shaq, thank you very much.

O'NEAL: Thank you, sir.

MORGAN: Another legend coming after the break. Magic Johnson. On a moment 20 years ago when he shocked the world. He gave us all new perspective on a dreaded disease.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAGIC JOHNSON, NBA LEGEND: Because of the HIV virus that I have attained, I will have to retire from the Lakers today. I just want to say that I'm going to miss playing, and I will now become a spokesman for the HIV virus.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MORGAN: That was the moment in 1991 that Magic Johnson, after his joyful start at basketball, put the spotlight on the scourge of this era, HIV and AIDS. Since then he's become a poster boy for how to live with that disease and to thrive.

And joining me now is Earvin Magic Johnson.

Magic, welcome.

JOHNSON: Thank you for having me.

MORGAN: It's an extraordinary thing. I think 20 years ago you made that incredible press conference. I remember watching it live like many millions around the world being completely shocked and also because at the time there was this great stigma about HIV and AIDS. There was this kind of terrible fatalistic sense that you only had a few months or even a year to live.

Here you are, you're 20 years later. You look supremely fit and healthy. How do you feel about still being around?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, I've been blessed. God blessed me. The medicine's done its part. My support system, my wife, my kids, they've all helped me to be here 20 years later. But when you think about 20 years ago, people thought it was a death sentence. And I've done everything I was supposed to do to be here 20 years later.

And then I think early detection saved my life as well. We found out early. I got on the meds right away. I had great doctors in Dr. Hull. So it all just came together for me. That's why we urge people all the time to get out and get tested and because early detection -- back 20 years ago there was only one drug. Now there's over 30 drugs that can take care of you and prolong your life.

MORGAN: And what is the reality of living with HIV? In terms of the medication you had to take every day and so -- how do you keep as healthy as you clearly appear to be?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, you take the drugs twice a day, but I work out every day, too. And then besides working out, taking your drugs, I really believe is your frame of mind. How you deal with it, how you accept it now you have to live with HIV. And a lot of people don't accept it well. So they don't do well.

But I think that -- from day one I accepted my new status. I just said, you know what? I can live a long time. My -- Dr. Hull kept telling me if I do all the right things I can, taking my meds and doing everything. So it definitely changed my mindset and attitude, but at the same time it didn't change who I was.

I still have -- I love life and I love living. And I'm just going to keep my smile on my face and I think that's what carried me through.

MORGAN: It's the World AIDS Day on December 1st, what is the overriding message you would like to communicate on this particular anniversary?

JOHNSON: I think to continue to help people understand this disease hasn't gone anywhere. And then the disease is really affecting those people of color, especially in the African-American community. So it's really affected our community in a big way.

And 20 years ago when I announced everybody ran out and got tested. Now I think you know they're sort of asleep on HIV and aids again, and we got to wake them back up to know that this disease is still deadly. There's no cure out there. So we must get out and get tested, go back for our results and continue to fight discrimination as well because some people who announce they have HIV get discriminated against, and we got to stop that.

But the main thing is get the meds in to the people's hands who need those meds. And if they're -- if we can keep it affordable, it's really going to be important. And then the government must continue to do their part, too. Funding of different HIV and AIDS organizations.

MORGAN: When I look at you and hear you talk, and you seem so vibrant and full of energy, and so on, when you see Shaq, who had just retired after playing for the entire period since you retired, the 20- year period, do you wish, knowing what you know now, you hadn't retired when you did? Do you wish you'd carried on?

JOHNSON: Well, first of all, you know, dealing with Shaq, Shaq is so amazing. He's probably -- I think he's been the most entertaining, most dominant player we've ever had, and also great for the game.

But if I know what I -- if knew what I know today, I probably would have never retired. And -- but at the same time, you know, I was uneducated, I didn't know. So I made the right move because I wanted to be here a long time for my wife, Cookie, my kids, as well as just making sure that the virus didn't attack my immune system. Because if I played that 82-game schedule, the doctors felt it would attack my immune system.

MORGAN: Were you more shocked by the people who supported you at the time who you didn't expected? Or were you more disappointed by those you thought would who didn't?

JOHNSON: Well, I think that I was more shocked that the people who did support me. Because I think that at the end of the day, even when I wanted to come back to the NBA, a couple of players came out against me, that they didn't want to play against me. So I think that was the most shocking thing.

But people on the streets or people around the country or around the world, I was really shocked that they supported me as much as they did, and I was happy. But I think it was just the players who said they didn't want to play against me.

MORGAN: You mentioned that Shaq has been -- and clearly is one of the great entertainers that sports have ever seen. Never mind his basketball.

JOHNSON: Yes.

MORGAN: Let's have a little break and come back. I want to talk to you about who's been the greatest basketball player. He says Michael Jordan. Interested in what you think.

JOHNSON: OK.

MORGAN: It can include you.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: You've never seen me throw one yet.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MORGAN: That was you with Larry Bird in 1979. You both got into the NBA that year, and in fact he beat you out for Rookie of the Year. That must have really annoyed you, isn't it?

JOHNSON: I'm still mad today about that.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: You know, I'm always going to be mad at anything Larry wins over me. You know we just have that rivalry. So, I love Larry, though, he's my guy. But if we played today, I'm going to try to beat him today. If we played 20 years from now, I'm going to try to beat me and he's going to try to beat me.

MORGAN: It was interesting talking to Shaq because clearly the whole rivalry with Kobe -- the press loved it obviously, but I totally understood that. You know, if you're a professional sports man, you want to be number one.

JOHNSON: Right.

MORGAN: And if you're playing in a team, a small team of people, and you're both touted by different sets of fans to be number one in the game, there's going to be a rivalry, isn't there?

JOHNSON: No question about it. I mean when you think about I had a rivalry with Michael Jordan, and with Larry Bird, and Dr. J, all the guys that play when I played, you're going to -- you want to beat them just like they want to beat you. That's what makes the games so wonderful. And Shaq went on from Kobe to win a championship just like Kobe went on to win his championship.

MORGAN: Who is the best? He says Michael Jordan. Who's the best you've ever seen?

JOHNSON: Well, Michael Jordan was the best, and -- hands down. But at the same time, Bill Russell was the greatest winner, Shaq, my goodness, he's probably the most dominant player that's ever played.

MORGAN: Is Shaq the one you'd least want to play against? I would imagine that you walk out and you got Shaq O'Neal bearing down on you, there can't be many worse moments in sports, are there?

JOHNSON: Well, he's the one I would love to play with.

MORGAN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: Because I would -- I would have a lot of assists playing with the Big Diesel, but I think that Shaq -- yes, you don't want to play against Shaq because not only was he big, but also too he was light on his feet, and he was probably the best passing big man -- him and Kareem was the two best passing big men that's ever played in the game.

MORGAN: Let's talk about the -- well, I call it a strike, he called it a lockout. Whatever it was it was a squabble between a lot of rich people, it seemed to me, at a time when a lot of the fans had been losing their jobs, losing their homes and so on. An economic crisis.

What was your overview of the whole thing. Do you think it was ill-advised? Did it ever happen at al in the current climate?

JOHNSON: Well, I think when we look back at it, we wish it didn't happen from both the owners side and the players side. It was a strike that we always could have been avoided. But let's look at it like this, we're happy basketball is back on Christmas Day.

We're happy that now those who serve the soft drinks and the parking lot attendants, and the mom-and-pop businesses that surround all the arenas, they're happy because this strike really hurt their business and hurt all those people who work in those arenas.

MORGAN: But it was a bit selfish it seemed to me.

JOHNSON: Well, I think --

MORGAN: I love basketball.

JOHNSON: Yes. Yes, you're fighting over money, you're fighting over, you know, the best deal, and it was, but at the same time, I'm just happy it didn't go the whole year. I'm happy that we got it moved past us now, let's move it past us, get on to basketball and NBA basketball.

MORGAN: What is the one basket you scored that if I could give you a minute of your life back, you'd do it again?

JOHNSON: 1987, the hook shot versus the Celtics. No question --

MORGAN: Have to be.

JOHNSON: No question.

MORGAN: Even I know that.

JOHNSON: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

MORGAN: And I'm a cricket player.

JOHNSON: And you're a cricket --

(LAUGHTER)

JOHNSON: You know that one shot will always be the best shot ever.

MORGAN: How often do you think about it?

JOHNSON: All the time.

MORGAN: Every day?

JOHNSON: Not every day, but all the time. You know it's once a month or once every two weeks. You know you think about it because I replay the games even now today. I like watching the games that we played, because the Laker team back then, Showtime was so dynamic and so fast -- we played the game so fast, it's beautiful to watch.

MORGAN: Well, it was a great, great basket. And I salute you, Magic.

JOHNSON: Thank you.

MORGAN: And a pleasure.

JOHNSON: Thank you for having me.

MORGAN: Good to see you.

JOHNSON: You too. Thanks.

MORGAN: And that's all for us tonight. A night of legends, "AC 360", talking of legends, starts right now.