When most all professional sports were forced to halt competition in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, Michael Jordan, just like he had done for the Chicago Bulls night in and night out in his two spells, stepped up.
Jordan’s ‘The Last Dance’ documentary which told the story of the 1998 NBA championship-winning season, interspersed with memories and footage of his previous five title-winning years, engrossed fans around the world.
It was such a detailed and raw insight into one of greatest athletes of all time and despite complaints about Jordan’s editorial control of the content, the 10-part series helped put it beyond any doubt that he is the best to ever play basketball.
What was abundantly clear from the show was just how much Jordan transcended not just sport but popular culture and he was a genuine global superstar in the 1990s.
So much so that he caught the eye of a Swiss teenager with dreams of becoming a tennis star.
Around 20 years later, that young boy, who had a poster of Jordan on his wall, would end up collaborating with him on a tennis shoe that featured both of their iconic logos.
“I just remember when I was younger; in Germany, it was really big on the German TV stations,” Roger Federer said in 2014.
“That’s where I saw him doing all his moves. I wasn’t necessarily a Chicago Bulls fan or anything like that.
“It’s just I was into him, into the incredible athlete, just being that guy who was carrying basketball at the time. So I guess that’s what inspired me.”
Fast forward to the present day and one wonders whether Federer was also among the millions that watched Jordan’s documentary and is now thinking about emulating his childhood idol.
After revealing on Wednesday he had surgery on his right knee for the second time this year, Federer announced he will not play again this season.
When Federer returns in January, he will be nine months short of his 40th birthday and how much longer can he stretch his remarkable career?
To have him still playing at 38 is a blessing and has only served to strengthen his legacy as he determinedly attempts to hold onto his records with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic bearing down on him and a young crop of stars, who idolised him, trying to beat him.
Federer has always maintained he will continue playing for as long as his family are happy and recently spoke about the joy he’s having at home with wife Mirka and his two sets of twins.
Although he has said he will be back next year, perhaps it will dawn on him that he has nothing left to prove and he can retire peacefully knowing he’ll be celebrated alongside Jordan in sport’s history books.
On the other hand, because of the beauty with which he plays tennis, one of Federer’s least talked about qualities is his fighting spirit and unwavering will to win.
Back in 2017, Federer came back from six months out following knee surgery and won the Australian Open title after an unforgettable final against Nadal.
And four years on, don’t put it past a refreshed and rejuvenated Federer having a fairytale finish with his own ‘Last Dance’.
Published at Thu, 11 Jun 2020 09:01:00 +0000