Anyone who grows up a fan of sports knows just how cool it would be to live life just like Mike. In the sporting world, Michael is a champion, an icon, and a legend. He is what some may call a hero. Michael is the guy that every average Joe wants to be just like, but who is Mike?
Athletes named Michael have succeeded everywhere. As perhaps the greatest basketball player of all time, Michael Jordan won six NBA Championships, in all of which he was named the NBA Finals MVP. He was a fourteen time NBA All-Star, a five time regular season MVP, and he continues to be a marketing icon.
However, after the recent Olympic performance by another Michael, saying “I Want to be Like Mike” may refer to a guy with the last name of Phelps, not Jordan.
Michael Phelps won eight gold medals at the 2008 Beijing Olympics as a U.S. swimmer. He shattered records left and right, setting seven new world records. Phelps now owns fourteen career Olympic gold medals, the most of any Olympian in history by a long shot.
Another Olympian sharing this seemingly successful name is Michael Johnson, a sprinter who holds the record for the 400m and 4 x 400m relay. Johnson has four Olympic gold medals of his own and once held the title of “World’s Fastest Man.”
Minnesota Twins right-fielder Michael Cuddyer was the 1997 Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year. Texas Rangers’ shortstop Michael Young won the American League batting title in 2005 with a batting average of .331. A consecutive five time MLB All-Star, Young was the MVP of the 2006 All-Star game.
Recently retired NFL defensive end and Super Bowl XLII champion, Michael Strahan was a seven time Pro-Bowler and holds the single season NFL record for sacks with 22.5, while Hall of Fame wide receiver Michael Irvin is second to only Jerry Rice in postseason receptions.
Maybe the fact that so many athletes named Michael succeed, is just a mere coincidence. After all, Michael is the second most popular male name ever, according to Social Security statistics.
Or, maybe there really is something to the idea that guys named Michael seem to be invincible in competition. The fact of the matter is that wanting to be like Mike is a pretty big aspiration.