updated 12/16/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/16/1991 AT 01:00 AM EST

Correspondents sympathized with Magic Johnson, forced to retire from basketball because of his HIV infection, but many were upset with us for calling him a hero on our cover (PEOPLE, NOV. 25). As one reader put it, "Admire him for his athletic abilities and his courage in coining forth, but not for his promiscuous behavior."

After six U.S. Opens, seven French Opens, three Wimbledons and two Australian Opens, Chris Evert has finally achieved her most precious gift. If she sparks as much magic in motherhood as she did in tennis, then Alexander James Mill is one lucky little boy.
TINA LOWENTHAL, San Dimas, Calif.

You have two star athletes-one had a baby, one has the life-threatening HIV virus. Which one gets on the cover of PEOPLE? Whoever was responsible for this should start to get their priorities straight!

It is a shame that Earvin "Magic" Johnson tested positive for the HIV virus, but what do you expect after sleeping around in this day and age? We should make him an example, not a hero. If it were any other John Doe, everyone would say he got what he deserved. Since Magic is a distinguished member of society, we place him on a pedestal. Basketball has lost a great competitor, but America has not gained a hero.

Have our standards for heroism sunk so low that we must choose an oversexed and immoral sportsman to glorify? God help us!

I admit to being as heartsick as any civilized person should be that Magic Johnson has contracted the HIV virus. Yet, while the headlines continue to applaud his "grace under pressure" and the nation continues to support him following his diagnosis, I can't help but be reminded of more than 150 friends I've lost in the last 10 years and the grace they demonstrated. They also suffered under the added pressures of AIDS-motivated assaults, hatred, bigotry, apathy, ostracism and discrimination. No WE STILL LOVE YOU banners flew for them. Perhaps the magic of Magic will be that he may help introduce some much needed compassion into the collective consciousness for any victim of this virus.
J. KENNETH POE, Los Angeles

Wake up, Magic! God is not saying to you, "Let's educate the public." The only thing God ever said to you was, "Abstain before marriage and fidelity forever." You weren't listening then, and you aren't listening now.
PAULA S. MARCOUX, Farmington Hills. Mich.

This letter probably doesn't mean much coming from a 14-year-old, but I was really disappointed in your headline WE BELIEVE IN MAGIC: AMERICA FINDS A HERO. It's not that I don't respect him. I admire Magic a lot for his basketball skills and the person he is. It's just that I don't think we should see him as a hero because of the way he has gotten the HIV virus. I think we should respect him for the courage and dignity he has, but why should we believe in him when what he did was wrong?
KRISSI SUPER, Middle River, Minn.

If Magic were a woman, he would be considered a slut and a whore.
DONNA SILCOX, Jonesborough, Tenn.

This "role model" for today's youth engaged in unprotected sex with multitudes of women. He doesn't know where he contracted the disease or whom he has infected. "Remember!" he seems to be saying to the youth of America. "Do as I say, not as I do!" It will be magic if that message gets across.
CATHERINE S. MISSEL, Germantown, Md.

A real hero is Capt. John Couch, who gave his life after helping save 13 lives in the crash of the C-130 Hercules military transport plane.
GEORGIA SCHENIG, Clearwater, Fla.

Having worked with cancer patients and having recently suffered severe health problems, I found your story on Jack Kingman's fight against cancer inspiring. I understand his statement "I gave up." It is hard to find the courage to go on each day in adversity. If people don't forget you, the strong support from friends really helps you to fight the daily battle. Please let Mr. Klugman know that his fans celebrate his recovery with him. I pray that he continues to work in comedy because I need more to laugh than to cry.

I can't tell you how delighted I was to see this article on one of the stars of the U.S. women's national soccer team. They are an incredible group who play a game that takes strength, skill, agility and brains.
U.S. Amateur Soccer Association Albuquerque, N.Mex.

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