In the sports world we’ve turned the phrase “the Michael Jordan of…” into one of the most important labels of this century. Michael Phelps is certainly “the Michael Jordan of swimming,” and possibly Jordan’s biggest fan to boot.
On Monday the 18-time gold medalist finally met his idol during a Ryder Cup week taping of the Golf Channel’s “Feherty Live.”
“I froze. That’s the one person in the world who could do that to me,” Phelps told the Washington Post, while refusing to wash his hand ever again. “I literally have always looked up to him… he’s the greatest.”
The two legends of their respective sports had never met, but had been texting over the last few months and Phelps
assumed hoped they’d run into each other during the Ryder Cup this weekend, so Phelps was surprised when Jordan came out from behind the curtain. The episode will air Wednesday.
“I’m truly honored and humbled that he’s looked at me as a motivational figure,” Jordan said.
The strange part is that an entire generation sees Phelps as a transcendent sports figure and also has no idea who Jordan is. But we digress: Jordan, ever the competitor, challenged Phelps to a game of golf, or basketball, or ping pong… billards maybe; really anything he already knows he’s better at than Phelps.
“Anytime he’s ready, I’m ready,” said Jordan, whose terrifying competitive nature would almost surely ruin their friendship. “Except getting in the pool. I cannot swim, so I am not getting in the pool.”
That’s why he’s the Michael Jordan of being Michael Jordan.