Phelps has reached “Like Mike” status in swimming

By Akiem Balium- Host of 10 Minutes on the Clock on The Real Sports Talk Network, and Blogger for TRST’s the Sports Realist. Follow Akiem on Twitter @Li495Akiem

A tale of two Mikes.

While the London 2012 Olympics have not been the banner performance we saw from Michael Phelps in Beijing with his successful 8 for 8 campaign, it still turned out to be record setting for Baltimore’s very own. With a dominating performance fromTeam USA in the 4 X 200 freestyle relay with Phelps as anchor, he could’ve won gold for the USA while screaming out “Marco!…..Polo!…”

It’s now the 19th medal overall for Mr. Phelps and the 15th gold medalof his career. Statistically, he’s now the greatest Olympian of all time.

Not only that, but it indeed now puts a bow on his Olympic career. Phelps is almost certain to hang up his goggles when he gets back home to Baltimore after the Closing Ceremonies. He was already in the conversation for greatest of all time after his successful 8-for-8 bid in Beijing. But now, this proves it.

So, now that Phelps’ legacy is 99.99% set, now the question future top swimmers like France’s Yannick Agnel and even the USA’s Ryan Lochte will be asked is “Are we looking at the next Phelps?”

Let this be a warning to anyone with a media credential who has the guts to say this in an interview, a column, or on the air—you should have your credentials revoked if you even bring this up. First of all, it’ll be an unfair criticism of any future great swimmer if they don’t live up to the standard now set by Michael Phelps. Michael Phelps’s just doesn’t grow on trees on an everyday basis.

The 27-year old from Maryland is now in the rarefied air of sporting greatness. Dare I say…he’s“Like Mike”.

When it comes to consistent success year after year after year in the NBA, the standard includes Bill Russell who won 11 championships (including at one point 7 straight) for the Boston Celtics during their dynasty years of the 60s.

It also includes Michael Jordan, who is regarded by many as the greatest basketball player of all time. He won 6 consecutive championships for the Bulls from 1991 to 1998. Remember, the two years when the Houston Rockets won championships in ’94 and ’95, Jordan retired so he could golf and play minor league baseball for the Birmingham Barons—ironically, a Chicago White Sox farm team.

That is where Phelps is now in the pantheon of not only swimming, but the Olympics in general. And just as it is unfair to hold the great basketball players of today like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and even Kobe Bryant to the standard  of Jordan, it’ll be unfair to hold the Ryan Lochte’s of the world to Phelps’s greatness.

Coming into these London games, it seemed now as if Lochte was the better swimmer and poised to wrest the “best swimmer in the world” title from Phelps. That may be done in a sense of who is better in 2012. But in a historical context, Lochte can only dream of approaching Phelps. 8 for 8 in Beijing was something unprecedented and will likely be something we never see again. It can be said Phelps’ 8 for 8 is the swimming/Olympics equivalent of Jordan’s 6-for-6 in the 90s.

In 40 years we’ll be telling stories to future generations of competitive swimmers of howwe were witnesses to the greatest swimmer and Olympian of all time. We’re already telling those same stories about His Airness.

Congratulations to Michael Phelps on his record setting 19th Olympic medal & 15thgold. Now, wanting to be “Like Mike” is no longer just a basketball thing.

Vote Below on which Mike was more dominant in their sport-Phelps or Jordan.

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Posted on August 1, 2012, in Hot Sports Polls, NBA, Olympics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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