March 11th, 2012
03:25 PM ET
Basketball legend Magic Johnson has been quite public about being HIV positive, but he's never spoken publicly about what he endured behind the scenes in revealing that status.
"The Announcement" examines that day more than 20 years ago when the sports star shocked the world with his revelation that he had contracted the virus which causes AIDS.
The ESPN documentary is set to air Sunday at 9 p.m., and its director Nelson George said Johnson had been approached over the years to tell his story, but had been reluctant.
"While he does a lot of speaking about this - and has done so persistently - to really sit down and do a lengthy interview about it and have his wife talk about it, that's something they've avoided," George said. "We are very fortunate and quite honored that they agreed to do it at this time."
George and the documentary's producer, Rudy Crew, spoke with CNN at the SXSW festival about the project, which they said reveals for the first time Johnson's private struggles in the face of a very public diagnosis.
"It's an event that everybody shared in, but clearly this was one that was dealt with by him and his family," Crew said. "It was kind of like how Magic was on the court. He was a showman for everybody, but this announcement clearly was different."
The film is narrated by Johnson, which director George said offers viewers "the point of view [of] him looking out at the world."
"It's not so much what people said about him, it's how he felt and what people did to him," George said. "Be it people dis-inviting him to their restaurant or dealing with how [the drug] AZT affected his body. It's an inside-out view as opposed to the things you might have heard discussed on talk radio."
The project marks a continued delving into the world of docs for George, whose examination of the African American arts movement in Brooklyn in the '80s and '90s, "Brooklyn Boheme," is set to be offered on iTunes on March 13.
George said Johnson is hoping to further shine a spotlight on HIV and AIDS.
"One of the focuses for him is young people," George said. "The AIDS infection rate for young people, especially among black people, is really bad. He also talks a lot about the idea of drug research. I think there are a couple of agendas for him that are very very powerful."
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