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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Interview With Cindy Lauper; Interview With Shaquille O'Neal; Interview With Magic Johnson
Aired December 3, 2011 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT, HOST: Tonight the NBA's come home for Christmas but 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: 19 years baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
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 cause that's closest to his heart.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Then, where is she now. The one and only Cindy Lauper. She still wants to have fun.
CINDY LAUPER: You have your good times, your bad times, and then the times you don't talk about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: This is Piers Morgan Tonight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: One of my favorite pop videos ever. Cindy Lauper bursting onto the scene in the mid-80s with her wildly successful album, She's So Unusual. Had an amazing four top five singles including a breakout hit, of course, Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Cindy, welcome. LAUPER: Well, thank you.
MORGAN: If it wasn't such an (inaudible) thing to say, I'd say you were -- you were part of my youth but we've sort of grown up together. When you were having fun I wanted to have fun with you.
LAUPER: Well, I was having fun. I was laughing. I -- I had a -- a great time. It was -- Captain Lou made it so much fun. He was very -- he was just a funny fellow.
MORGAN: Well he was -- it was a time in the -- the 80s and you really were at the vanguard of pop video with MTV and everything else. What told you at the time this is going to be the way to go? This is the future.
LAUPER: Well, I think all of us at the time when video happened, you know, I -- I view what I do as a performance art. I think it's the same for a lot of artists of my time and when you saw a video you knew -- we would never listen -- just listen to music again. We would always see it and for me as I spent my whole life one foot in art and one foot in music so this was a great, you know, a great opportunity for me.
MORGAN: Were the 80s as good fun for you as I always imagined they had to be?
LAUPER: You know, when I went to London for the first time...
MORGAN: (inaudible) London.
LAUPER: ...it was so much fun because I -- I had never been to London and I didn't know anything, you know. I turned on the TV and there was a program, you know, with two people walking cows.
LAUPER: You know, and then it would seem like it they had back yards and they were just walking the cows.
LAUPER: And I thought, oh my God, these English people are so funny it's just like Monty Python, you know what I mean? So, I thought everything was hilarious.
MORGAN: We are a little bit nutty like that.
LAUPER: Oh yes.
MORGAN: One of your best friends is Sharon Osbourne, of course, who's my bete noire on America's Got Talent...
MORGAN: ...so, she's told me a few stories about you.
LAUPER: She's awesome. She's awesome.
MORGAN: I'm glad all the rumors I thought were true were true.
LAUPER: What do you mean?
MORGAN: About you being pretty naughty in your past.
LAUPER: Well, we had a couple of laughs.
MORGAN: I mean, when you sang Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Cindy, what kind of fun at the time did you have in mind and how much of it did you actually help yourself to?
LAUPER: When I sang that song I saw it as an opportunity to reach out to all young women and girls of every color and make a song about entitlement for women and in humor -- with humor and capture the people's imagination and color, capture the people's imagination and present an image of women that wasn't what was out there but more like the people that I knew that were the creative types and offer young women of all races an opportunity to see themselves in a different light.
And have a song about entitlement, that everyone is entitled to have -- to have a joyful experience and to me this song with all the humor was one of the most revolutionary things that I could have done and I knew that when I asked my mother to be in the video with me because it wasn't popular to be friendly with your mom and the truth is if you don't know where you came from you don't know where you're going and that's how they conquer.
They take away your history. You can never lose your history. Once you lose your history you lose your sense of self and where you came from and you need to know that.
MORGAN: Well, your mother was an extraordinary woman because your parents divorced when you were five, you were brought up in Queens in New York. I mean, not exactly an easy place to -- to grow up I wouldn't imagine although probably...
LAUPER: Ozone Park.
LAUPER: Ozone Park seems fitting.
MORGAN: Your mom brings you up and your two siblings. She's a working single parent really and you're -- you're Catholics, I think, the family.
MORGAN: Recovering Catholic -- what's a recovering Catholic?
LAUPER: Well? MORGAN: Does that mean you're so engulfed with guilt for your bad behavior?
LAUPER: Hell no -- heck no. But, you know, I was -- I was thrown out of two grade school Catholic schools.
MORGAN: So was my grandmother. She was actually finally expelled from the country.
LAUPER: Well, I'm not old enough to be your grandmother but, you know, no, I -- I thought, you know, there was one time I was actually just praying to leave that place and then I got expelled and I thought, there is a God.
MORGAN: What did you do to get expelled?
LAUPER: Oh, you don't -- I -- I ...
MORGAN: No, I do want to know.
LAUPER: Well, really I was -- I decided to -- I was talking to a nun and in those days the poor things they, you know, the men had the breezy clothing and the women had the cardboard like dress and, you know, that -- that always struck me. I loved the black and white because it's very French, very stylish.
But, I thought, you know, the cardboard thing. So, I asked her if she went to the beach ever and she said yes. She said, well, we have a private beach. And I said, and you go in the water? And she said yes. And I said, yes, but don't the cardboard get wet and then she got a little upset.
And then there was this one girl, she was sisters with this other girl. The two sisters were opposite. One of them, she had -- Carmen, she had like curly -- she curled her bangs and everything was perfect and she had the Peter Pan collar and the other one, Rosetta, she had hair wild, her cheeks were rosy, she rolled up her -- her skirt a little and she tied her shirt and to me she looked like an Italian beauty and I always admired her.
And she came up to me after I said that, she said, now ask her about, you know, menstruating. So I did. And they got so mad that they expelled me and I felt bad but in a way I -- I wanted -- I loved this girl but she (inaudible).
MORGAN: And then, why did you get expelled again? What did -- what did you do?
LAUPER: No, no. The first time they expelled me...
MORGAN: So this was number two?
LAUPER: ...yes, this was number two.
MORGAN: What was number one? LAUPER: Oh. Not -- nothing really. My mom had gotten divorced and we were still in Catholic school and there was this priest, Father Cunningham, and I really liked him and he would walk up and down next to my third grade class under the church we had a class and I would always try and catch up to him and I would say good morning Father Cunningham and he'd say good morning Sylvia.
And I would say, Cynthia. And he'd go, you know, Sylvia. So, after a while, I said fine, Sylvia, I don't care. And then he was like -- he said -- I -- I went to confession, you know, to him because he was my friend and he started yelling and saying my mother was going to go to hell because I didn't go to mass and I said to him in the confession, I said, well, what do you know about my mother, you don't know anything about my mother, she's a good woman, she works hard and she takes care of her kids and she loves us and don't tell me she's going to hell.
Well, after that, the church contacted my mother and they said, listen, I think maybe this kind of relationship is not happening.
MORGAN: Well, I admire the first one. I think that's perfectly acceptable. The second one was a bit naughty.
LAUPER: It was a little cheeky.
LAUPER: But, you know, they were nasty sometimes. They -- they would hit us and stuff and then we'd tell our parents and then they'd -- the parents would come and then they'd tell the parents we were lying. So, who's your mother going to believe? She brought you to the convent school so that you would go to heaven because, obviously, she believed she was going to hell, you know. I -- I -- I don't know.
MORGAN: What did your mother make of your career as it unfurled?
LAUPER: The first time, she said, you know, Cin, I didn't know -- well, you know, I was always singing anyway. As a kid, the nuns told her I should have sung opera, I should be trained in, you know -- we didn't have money so she was all ready to, you know, look for better parents and I said, look, ma, I don't think we should go that route. I think, you know, we should stick together and, hey, you know, it's not important to me.
You know, I'm going to be who I'm going to be anyway. You know, I knew that. So, I thought at first I was just very -- I was different. I mean, Sharon told you. Everything I said and did and I tried so hard to fit in -- I thin it's not worth it. I think it's not worth trying to fit in. I think -- I think you're different from the inside out or the outside in depending upon how you feel that day.
MORGAN: I totally agree. Let's have a little break and come back and talk about other people who are like that these days, the Lady Gaga brigade who I think got their inspiration from you, Madame Cin.
LAUPER: Well, I got my inspiration from Deborah Harry.
LAUPER: Or Big Momma Thornton. Did you ever check her -- her (inaudible).
MORGAN: Hold that thought. Come back after the break and tell me about Big Momma Thornton. I've never heard of her.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Time After Time, another absolute classic. These are like -- these are like part of my life. You had an effect on me, Cindy Lauper. Do you like that? Do you like the fact that a lot of people, you know, through the 80s and 90s you were -- they were sort of in their teens or whatever, they just loved the kind of spirit that came with your music, the videos, the whole thing. We all wanted to be in Cindy Lauper's gang.
LAUPER: Well, we did have a gang.
MORGAN: Well, some people like to go the Lady Gaga route. I'm still a Cindy Lauper man myself.
LAUPER: What do you mean? I think she's fantastic.
MORGAN: I don't know that it's anything that she does, I think she's great but there's nothing I don't think that she does really that is something you haven't already done.
LAUPER: No, I think that ...
MORGAN: From the fashion to the videos, you were there first.
LAUPER: Yes, but, everybody was -- look, Deborah Harry was there first.
LAUPER: And Big Momma Thornton. Now Big Momma Thornton and -- and -- and Ma Rainey. Ma Rainey was known as the gold chained woman doing that in 1904.
MORGAN: Are you a -- are you a Gaga fan?
LAUPER: Yes, I like -- I -- there's some stuff I really like and I saw her do this thing when we doing the Viva Glam campaign where she did like a George Segal sculpture where she looked like a George Segal sculpture. You know, I really love the Bus Driver.
MORGAN: Yes, yes, yes.
LAUPER: Do you ever just go and sit and look at it? And I thought that she looked like the bus driver but she didn't, she had a, you know, she had a motorcycle cap and -- but it was painted and -- and that part of it I just loved because I always view what we do as performance art, whether it's Gaga or Nicki Minaj or little Katy Perry or me or Madonna or Annie Lennox or Deborah Harry it's performance art.
MORGAN: And it's part of it -- the ability to take risks and occasionally fail. I mean, is that part of being a performance artist, really? I mean, it's not much Gaga and sometimes I absolutely love what she does. Other times I think this is completely crackers and I don't get it but I like the fact that she's constantly trying new things.
LAUPER: You've got to try. You've got to try. What are you going to do, never grow? You know, the younger artists look to the older artists just like I do but you also look to the younger artists. There's new music happening all the time.
There 's old music to still discover. There's older artists making new music. Music is a great medium and the great thing about the fact that video happened and the visual happened and there's TV is that we now hear and see it. It's now -- it is a moving art form and I think -- I think that's fantastic because I feel like I was born in the right time for it because I love art and I -- I love music and I research everything I do.
I don't just show up. You know, I -- maybe I'm not like as a gifted singer as most because I don't -- I don't -- I can't like just walk in and sing on top of a band because if I hear something that disturbs me I can't ...
MORGAN: No, but what you have -- you have got one of the most distinctive voices that modern music has ever heard. You could not be anywhere in the world and when one of your records comes on not instinctively know it's you and there aren't many singers like that.
LAUPER: Well, I arranged the music around my voice.
MORGAN: Yes, it's -- it's a great voice, like a straight top side of the (inaudible) in there.
LAUPER: I don't know. Where is that?
MORGAN: I think so. I don't know, or some dark street in Queens.
LAUPER: Really? Because we grew up in a mother, daughter, sister, brother house like that had shingles the color of Good And Plenty candy. And you know, I always wanted to eat it but now I know that what made that color was asbestos.
MORGAN: When you go back to -- to Queens...
MORGAN: ...you must be like a heroine there because that voice has put Queens on the global map.
LAUPER: Excuse me. I don't know. You think?
MORGAN: I think so.
LAUPER: I always felt embarrassed. I tried to learn how to talk and they -- they -- everybody's tried to help me.
MORGAN: Why would you want to change it.
LAUPER: Well, because sometimes it sounds like I could hear the clotheslines -- the sheets being pulled from the clotheslines, you know, because that's what it sounds like to me, you know, but I -- I -- I don't know. I've tried though. I have tried. They say you need to relax your mouth and speak softly.
MORGAN: No, forget it.
LAUPER: Now, who -- who the heck is going to -- that's ridiculous, right?
MORGAN: Nobody wants to hear you talk in any other way but like this.
LAUPER: Oh, there you go, (inaudible), because I don't talk like that.
MORGAN: Yes, you do. Let's talk politics for a moment. You're a little firebrand about everything else and I bet you are about politics. What do you think of the -- the current big debate is President Obama, should he get another go or has he basically blown it? Has all the hope that he came into power with evaporated?
LAUPER: Oh, all right. May I? May I show them what I (inaudible).
MORGAN: You showed me this in the break again. This is fascinating.
LAUPER: I Googled it. It's like -- listen, I sell music, right? But I try and make it real so that I can actually help people and make them feel better. But, you know, you watch the advertisement and you listen to a speech where they -- they -- the way they talk. Here's some fact.
When Clinton left, we were $127 billion surplus, OK? When Bush left, we were $1.2 trillion in debt. OK? Now that's -- that's a lot of money that -- that got spent and we -- and the Republicans, pardon me, were in charge.
So, now, I'm supposed to think, and of course it's typical, blame the black guy, get the black guy in in the worse condition ever and blame him. I'm sorry. He's half white. MORGAN: Do you think it's as simple as that?
LAUPER: Hon, I'm a woman and I know for a fact from day one, it don't matter what color you are, they blame the woman, it's her fault, all the time. It's just the way society is. Yes, I think so. I think that he's trying really hard. What is important that I see in all the political nonsense is nonsense.
It's all who's buying? Oh, I'm going to have this. It's like, what do you -- why don't you just grow up? It's our country. And you're sitting there going oh, look at all the Wall Street protesters. Are you kidding? It's not like a -- it's people, it's Americans who want to go back to America.
They don't want to be hoodwinked anymore. I don't want to be hoodwinked. How bad -- you know, I'm supposed to believe in your religion, no thank you, you don't want to believe in mine, I don't want to believe in yours.
That's not why we live in this country. Separation of church and state, you know, and I don't want to know anything else. I'm not going to tell you what to believe and don't you dare tell me what to believe. That's why I live here and I thank God I was born here.
MORGAN: He's done an amazing thing for almost every minority group in this country.
LAUPER: No. Do you know that we -- this guy I'm working with who spearheads, you know, we did the Give a Damn campaign together, we're doing the True Colors fun thing. Well, we did research and what came back was really disturbing, that most of the homeless people in this country are kids and up to 20-40 percent of those people are LGBT kids which means that these gay kids, their parents are kicking them out of the house.
Now, when does it come to life that your dogma is more important than your kid? You can't throw people away and not the little ones, not -- not the kids. The kids are our future.
MORGAN: I'm with you.
LAUPER: It doesn't matter.
MORGAN: I'm with you. Tell me quickly about your own son. He's 14 years old.
LAUPER: Oh, he doesn't like me talking about him.
MORGAN: Well, you've -- but you've -- amazingly, despite your bad girl reputation, you've actually been a very domesticated loving loyal wife of 20 years, mother for 14. You done well, haven't you, for a naughty Catholic girl.
LAUPER: Well, you know, I'm not -- I'm not perfect, look how cute he is. Yes, he is a cutie, my husband. MORGAN: He is. What's -- what's been your secret to -- to a lasting marriage, given that you're a huge star and normally that means that you've had about 13 marriages in this country.
LAUPER: I got married late and I, you know, you see a lot of people and there's a lot of different people and, you know, you have your rocky times and you have your good times, you know -- I have a friend who was married 35 years and he said, yes, yes, you have your good times, your bad times, and then the times you don't talk about.
LAUPER: But, you know, that's how it is and it's not always fabulous. You know, I think at one point I said, you know, we -- we -- we were coming to, you know, bouts and as I said well, I'm going to, you know, live here and I'm trying to figure out my schedule and I realized that I was looking at my schedule really trying to schedule most of my time with them. And I -- I love them and I don't think anything else is better than that. Nothing is better than family and I always wanted a real life. I didn't want a fake life. I wanted real life. I want to write about real things and I want to live. I sound like that Susan Heyward movie, I want to live.
MORGAN: Well, you know what, I want to live and I want to live the Cindy Lauper way...
LAUPER: Oh, I don't know.
MORGAN: ...in all it's glory. It's been an absolute pleasure and you've got this new DVD coming out, it's you live, To Memphis With Love, it's a blues album.
LAUPER: Yes, and you should look up Big Momma Thornton because she's a blues artist and all this stuff, I -- the masters still play.
MORGAN: It's been a joy to talk to you. Thank you so much. A real pleasure.
SHAQUILLE O'NEAL: I did it. 19 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: That was Shaquille O'Neal's retirement announcement via Tout video. He's an NBA legend, of course, a star for 19 years. Pretty hard to imagine he won't be playing this year at all. Now, he's an author. A new book is Shaq Uncut, My Story, and he joins me now.
What I love about 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 Chamberneezy, The Real Deal, The Big Shamrock, and Shaq. I like the Big Shaqtus but which one of those do you particularly like?
O'NEAL: I have a new name that you just gave me.
MORGAN: Which one?
O'NEAL: The Big Duke.
MORGAN: The Big -- In England you would be The Big Duke or The Very Big Duke.
O'NEAL: That's right. That's right.
MORGAN: Now 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 accomplished more but, you know, there comes a time in life where you have to do something else.
MORGAN: Did it feel right, the moment to leave? I mean, I know it probably wasn't the perfect scripted ending but do you feel inside you it's the time to go on?
O'NEAL: It felt right. I -- I -- you know, I left on sort of a sour note. I tore my Achilles in half, basically, and rehab for that would have been -- 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, it would have had very, very low chances of doing that. So, I just decided to give it up after 19 great years.
MORGAN: Have you taken up golf yet?
O'NEAL: No, not at all.
MORGAN: Well, that's the natural thing I would have thought for you now, Shaq.
O'NEAL: No, no. 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 the old Big Bertha out and boom.
O'NEAL: I can hit it pretty far.
MORGAN: Tell me about the NBA strike because as somebody who is 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 -- you used a wrong choice of words. A strike is when the workers say, you know, we're -- we're not being treated fair and we're going to do something else. A lockout is when the owners say we don't like our deal so, this -- in this case it was a lockout and -- and, you know, both sides made -- 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 that will be very, very unfortunate. But, they finally got it done. Derek Fisher did a great job. David Stern did a great job and I think our first games are on Christmas Day.
MORGAN: I know. It'll be fun.
O'NEAL: Yes, it will be fun.
MORGAN: What do you think of Obama?
O'NEAL: You know, he's our president and, you know, I come from a military background and, you know, I'm all about respect and, you know, he does a -- he does a hard job. I wouldn't want that job, personally, but, you know, I -- I have to show the man a lot of respect because he is 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 the dream has finally come true and, you know, it's a hard job. You know, it'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's 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, at a sport, and you're a great entrepreneur, you've made hundreds of millions of dollars. What has gone wrong with the American business model? Now, 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 or, you know, to me, they are the real businessmen. I -- I came into the business and -- and your next -- your next guy that's coming out here, Magic Johnson, was the one who -- who taught me how to be a businessman. You know, he was the one that said...
MORGAN: How to expand beyond the sport. O'NEAL: ...yes, yes, he told me, you know, it's OK to be famous and it's OK to be the man in LA but you want to start owning things. So, you know, my view of -- of how to be a businessman is -- 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 it's 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 it's all over.
MORGAN: Back with my special guest, Shaquille O'Neal. Shaq, it's a fascinating book in many ways. 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 -- to live a dream that you've now lived?
O'NEAL: Yes, my mother was the driving force. She was the one who -- who taught me how to believe and taught me how to dream. Something that I call a dreamful attraction, you know, it sort of deals with the laws of attraction like, whatever you think about will come true. So, yes, my father was very hard, you know, he was an Army guy -- career Army guy and, you know, every spanking I got was -- was deserved. You know, I was a high level juvenile delinquent and if it wasn't for him and his tough -- tough love I could have either went left or either went right. So, you know, I -- I owe everything I am today because of my parents.
MORGAN: Well, what do you make of these scandals at first Penn State and now Syracuse with these young kids. You have been in that position, you've been a young college basketball player and stuff. 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, it's -- it's something that -- that was, you know, very, very awful and it shouldn't have happened.
MORGAN: Let's turn to your mate, Kobe Bryant. So, I used to love the feud -- 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 them, I mean, unless I'm mistaken, it wasn't that you hated him, you just both wanted to be top dog, right?
O'NEAL: I'm glad you understood that but when I was the leader Hershey and Blanchard states that leadership styles vary when you're dealing with task or relationships. So, as a leader I was always focused on the task. And, like you said, you -- you know, we did certain things, we said certain things that made everything excited and, like you said, it also made us unbeatable. I mean, I -- 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 and that's all that matters.
MORGAN: Who is the best player you've ever seen?
O'NEAL: I'm going to have to go with Michael Jordan but -- but, you know, I think sometimes that's an unfair question because the next guy that's coming in here, Magic Johnson, he was a great one too. So was Larry Bird. So was Kareem and so was Bill Russell. So was Wilt Chamberlain, so.
MORGAN: Some very important people. It said on the back of this book that you were the most dominant player that they ever say. That 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: Yes, 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...
O'NEAL: ...yes, that man right there.
MORGAN: Well, 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?
MORGAN: I couldn't imagine it ever happening other than some sort of weird suicide mission.
O'NEAL: And that's because people know that I'm -- I'm very likable and they know that I'm a funny guy and I can take a joke.
MORGAN: Isn't it more to do with the fact that you're 7 feet tall and could pummel them to pieces?
O'NEAL: Well, maybe a little bit but, you know, you know, people from seeing me on TV and, you know, from seeing me on Tout, they know that I'm a funny likable guy so if you say a crazy joke to 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 birth of your kids and marriage and so on, what has been the one moment you would relive again? What's been the greatest moment?
O'NEAL: All of it. And if I ... MORGAN: Give me one. I've got -- I've got five minutes I can replay.
O'NEAL: ...I mean, just, you know, I'm very blessed to have two loving caring parents and, you know, 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. I had a great childhood. I was able to just sit back and dream and, you know, I -- I met great people like Magic Johnson and Bill Russell and I played in the best cities and I led parades and, you know, get to meet a lot of people like I -- 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. Well, I think when it comes to legendary you are slightly higher up the legend ladder than me but it's been a real pleasure.
O'NEAL: Thank you.
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. You're getting a bit -- a bit like a cockney, a cockney Duke. Shaq, thank you very much.
O'NEAL: Thank you, Sir.
MORGAN: Another legend coming up after the break, Magic Johnson, on the moment 20 years ago when he shocked the world and gave us all new perspective on that dreaded disease.
MAGIC JOHNSON: Because of the HIV virus that I have obtained, 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 over his joyful start in basketball put the spotlight on the scourge of that era, HIV and AIDS. Since then, he has become a poster boy for how to live with that disease and to thrive and joining me now is Irving Magic Johnson. Magic, welcome.
JOHNSON: Thank you for having me.
MORGAN: It's an extraordinary thing when I think 20 years ago you made that incredible press conference. I remember watching it live like many millions of people 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 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 has 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. Ho 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 it was only one drug, now it's over 30 drugs that can take care of you and prolong your life.
MORGAN: What is the reality of living with HIV in terms of the medication you have to take every day and so on. How -- 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 -- I really believe is your frame of mind, how you deal with it, how you accept it and how 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 I -- from day one I accepted my new status.
I just said, you know what, I can live a long time, my -- Dr. Ho kept telling me if I do all the right things I can, taking my meds and doing everything. So, it -- it definitely changed my mindset and attitude but, at the same time, it didn't change who I was. I still had -- I love life and I love living and I'm going to keep this smile on my face and I think that's what carried me through.
MORGAN: It's World AIDS Day on December the 1st. What is the overriding message you would like to communicate on this particular anniversary?
JOHNSON: I think continue to help people to understand, this is -- 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 affecting our community in a big way and -- 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've 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've got to stop that.
But, the main thing is get the meds into 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 has 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 had carried on?
JOHNSON: Well, first of all, 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 I knew what I know today, I probably wouldn't 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 games 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 expect to 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 he clearly has, one of the great entertainers that sports has ever seen, never mind his basketball.
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. I'm interested in what you think.
MORGAN: And it includes you. You haven't seen me (inaudible). (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MORGAN: That was you with Larry Bird in 1979. You both came in the NBA that year and, in fact, he beat you out for Rookie Of The Year. That must have really annoyed you, didn't it?
JOHNSON: I'm still mad today about that.
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 play 20 years from now I'm going to try to beat him and he's going to try to beat me.
MORGAN: It was interesting talking to -- 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 sportsman you want to be number one.
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 rivalry isn't there?
JOHNSON: Oh, no question about it. I mean, when you think about it, I had a rivalry with Michael Jordan and with Larry Bird and Dr. J., all the guys that played when I played, you're going to -- you want to beat them just like they want to beat you. That's what makes the game so wonderful and Shaq went on from Kobe to win a championship just like Kobe went on to win his championship.
MORGAN: Who was 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, oh my goodness, is 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've 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 because 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 were the two best passing big men that have ever played in the game.
MORGAN: Let's talk about the -- 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 in the economic crisis. What was your overview of the whole thing? Do you think it was ill advised that it ever happened at all in the current climate?
JOHNSON: Well, I think when we look back at it we wish it didn't happen from both the owner's side and the player's side. It was a strike that we always could have been avoided but, let's -- let's look at it like this. We're happy basketball is back on Christmas Day. We're happy that now those who served 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: Well, it was a bit selfish it seemed to me.
JOHNSON: Well, I think that you...
MORGAN: But, I love basketball.
JOHNSON: ...yes, you're -- 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, let's 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: Well 1987, the hook shot versus the Celtics.
MORGAN: Had to be.
JOHNSON: Oh, no question about it.
MORGAN: Even I know that and I'm a cricket fan.
JOHNSON: And you're a cricket fan. You know, that -- 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 -- 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 them, show time 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: It's been a pleasure.
JOHNSON: Thank you for having me.
MORGAN: Good to see you.
JOHNSON: You too.