Basketball: Magic spell envelops Belgravia: Pint-sized fans flock to clinics as American superstar holds court

Click to follow
The Independent Online
SALES of basketball boots and the numbers of boys pestering dad to subscribe to Sky Sports for their NBA coverage are about to blip. Magic Johnson, the tree-sized idol to a generation of pint-sized fans, arrived like a whirlwind in London as you read yesterday's paper and left again before you can read today's.

Heading a team of has-been NBA stars on an 11-stop three-week tour of Europe, Johnson has supposedly been trying help boost the state of the game on this side of the Atlantic. If beating the best team each nation can produce is a boost, then await a European explosion of basketball talent.

A Dutch team lost to the American giants on Thursday by 40 points and the best the UK could muster were routed 133-78 at the London Arena last night, but more positive action to improve the European game is seen at the clinics Johnson runs for groups of children in each city. Twice the height of his proteges, he lollops around the court dishing out tips in the rapid- fire manner he once used to annihilate his NBA opponents.

Caught up in the Magic media circus in Belgravia, Alex Saville was impressed by the gentle giant who stopped, with the encouragement of 20 cameramen, to sign an autograph for the 11-year-old.

Alex's friend, Charlie Cox, was more blase. 'I saw Magic last week,' he boasted. 'He was on the boat next to ours in St Tropez. It was very big. The French were all calling him Mageek.' The Magic magic must be working. Both boys were wearing basketball boots.