INGLEWOOD, CALIF., NOV. 4 -- Magic Johnson said in a television interview that his decision Monday to re-retire from the Los Angeles Lakers was influenced by the reaction of players to a cut he received during his last game.

Johnson said in an interview taped Tuesday and airing Thursday on ABC's "PrimeTime Live" that after he received the cut above his right wrist during the exhibition contest against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Friday, he "could see the fear upon people's faces."

Johnson, who initially retired from the NBA a year ago after contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, announced his return to the league on Sept. 29. In the last few weeks, however, he has been dogged by controversy over how he acquired HIV (he said it was through heterosexual contact) and the reaction of other NBA players, at least two of whom have expressed concern about playing with Johnson, adding that other players share those feelings.

Johnson left Friday night's game upon being cut. An NBA rule requires a player who is cut to leave the game immediately, receive treatment and stay out until the bleeding stops. Johnson went back into the game wearing a wrist band covering the cut.

In the interview with correspondent Chris Wallace, Johnson said the reaction of other players and writers near the Lakers bench as he was being treated by trainer Gary Vitti, "added to it, to my decision of saying it's enough, enough."

Wallace asked: "Why? What did it?"

Johnson: "Because, you know, you could see fear upon people's faces."

When asked by Wallace if the players were "sitting on the bench looking out the corner of their eyes," Johnson said, "Exactly. And then there's the writers all looking over. So, everybody. And then you put one Band-Aid on, and then what happens, is we put a wrist band over it. It just kept drawing attention to it. ...

"I said between this, and all the criticism, it's just too much. It's gonna happen all year long. Scraped. Whether I get cut or somebody else. Boom. There's that panic. There's that fear."

However, following a team practice today at Loyola Marymount College, Vitti discounted reports that other players reacted with dismay over Johnson's cut.

"That's totally false," Vitti said. "I'll tell you exactly what happened. One player said, 'Earvin, you've got a cut on your arm.' One of the refs looked over at him and asked, and Earvin said he didn't. A little later there was time out and that's when we saw the cut and he was treated. There wasn't anybody freaking out or anything like that."

Lakers forward Sam Perkins also said today that there was no untoward reaction toward Johnson at the time of the incident.

"I don't know about" any panic among players, he said. "No one said anything and no one went frantic. If you have any knowledge about what's going on {with HIV and AIDS} there wouldn't be any reason to act that way."

Johnson's statement on "PrimeTime Live" that he "pretty much" made up his mind to retire on the flight home from North Carolina following the game would also seem to conflict with statements given by his agent Lon Rosen Monday. Then, Rosen said that the cut Johnson received had "no effect" on his decision to retire.