Michael Phelps’ big year just keeps getting better.
The most decorated Olympian finally met his idol, Michael Jordan, on Monday night. Jordan made a surprise appearance during a taping of ”Feherty Live,” and Phelps was so overwhelmed he could barely speak.
”I froze. That’s the one person in the world who could do that to me,” Phelps said afterward. ”I literally have always looked up to him.”
Phelps may have grown up in Baltimore, but he was a Jordan fan.
”He’s the greatest,” Phelps said simply.
Phelps has been exchanging text messages with Jordan for a few months now, and said he thought he’d meet the Chicago Bulls star at some point during this week’s Ryder Cup.
U.S. captain Davis Love III has made Jordan an honorary member of the American team, and Phelps will participate in several events at Medinah Country Club. Phelps has taken up golf since retiring following the London Olympics, and has signed on to be Hank Haney’s latest pupil in ”The Haney Project.”
But when Jordan walked on stage, Phelps was still stunned. Jordan slapped his hand, then drew Phelps in for a big hug. The two were guests on the special Ryder Cup-themed edition of ”Feherty Live.” It will air on the Golf Channel on Wednesday, two days before the Ryder Cup begins at Medinah.
”It was very special that he was able to come by, stop by and say hello,” Phelps said. ”I’m still, like, out of it. That was awesome.”
Jordan won six NBA titles with the Bulls, and was the first athlete to become a worldwide brand. He sold everything from shoes to soft drinks, and people the world over knew him as ”Michael.”
Even those who didn’t care about basketball wanted to be ”like Mike,” and Phelps said he hoped to make a similar impact in swimming.
In fact, Phelps said, the neatest thing these past few years has been meeting children who say they want to be like him or do what he’s done.
”I’m truly honored and humbled that he’s looked at me as a motivational figure,” Jordan said.
Jordan’s love of golf is well known, and he told Phelps the two should play.
”Anytime he’s ready, I’m ready,” said Jordan, who even offered to chauffeur Phelps around his adopted city. ”Except getting in the pool. I cannot swim, so I am not getting in the pool.”
Phelps had had plenty of big moments in his career. His 22 Olympic medals are the most by any athlete, and his eight gold medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 broke the iconic mark set by Mark Spitz in 1972.
But meeting Jordan was something special, and he was still overwhelmed after Jordan left.
”I’m very tired,” he said. ”But I don’t know that I’ll be able to sleep now.”