Michael Jordan, widely believed to be the greatest basketball player of all time, has a floating role behind the scenes for the American Ryder Cup team this week.
Jordan, 49, who reached stardom in the 1980s and 1990s as the pivotal player for the NBA’s all-conquering Chicago Bulls, is a golfing fanatic and a dedicated supporter of the American Ryder Cup cause – he has attended every Ryder Cup since 1995 – and he has a friendship with American captain Davis Love that stretches back to before either man had turned professional in their respective sports. A global icon and local hero, Jordan also brings local knowledge into the team room, as he is a member of Medinah Country Club, which is hosting the 2012 Ryder Cup.
Most importantly, Love hopes Jordan can impart some inspiration from within the American team room, and to embellish the team spirit of the home side.
“Michael does not have an official role except for the fact he’s one of our buddies and we like having him around,” says Love, who, 30 years ago, introduced Jordan to golf through a mutual friendship with Jordan’s college teammate at the University of North Carolina, Buzz Peterson. “He just loves the Ryder Cup. He’s entertaining, and we’re going to have him in the team room when he wants to come in, and in the locker room. He’s just a good motivation for a lot of these guys.”
A media request for Love to agree to a Jordan press conference this week was met with an abrupt “No” from the American captain.
While Jordan no longer lives in the Chicago area, his exploits for the Bulls are legendary. Known as ‘Air Jordan’ for his unrivalled ability to deliver soaring slam dunks, he led the Bulls to an unprecedented six NBA titles between 1991 and 1998.
On Monday evening Jordan made a surprise appearance at the live recording of ‘Feherty Live from the Ryder Cup’ in Chicago, which will be broadcast tonight on the Golf Channel in the United States. When Jordan walked out onto the set in front of the studio audience, he triggered a delirious, two-minute ovation.
But despite the Air Jordan hoopla, the question remains whether his presence in the American team room will help spur Love’s golfers to win the Ryder Cup for only the second time in the past decade.
“Michael is a very competitive guy,” adds Jose Maria Olazabal, captain of the 2012 European team, who has met Jordan at previous Ryder Cups. “He has a presence everywhere he goes, and he has the heart and the spirit of a team player, even though, individually, he is an icon. I’m pretty sure he will bring quite a bit to the equation on the US team.”
Article courtesy of Mercedes-Benz, the official car of the 2012 Ryder Cup