CNN

July 30th, 2012

Piers Morgan Tonight: Michael Phelps on his sporting idols

Tonight at 9 p.m., “Piers Morgan Tonight” welcomes one of the most-decorated Olympic athletes in history, 16-time medal winner Michael Phelps.

Joining Piers Morgan tonight, the 27-year-old swimming legend is asked to extend his thinking outside of the pool, as the host dives in with a deeper, and broader question:

“Who are your sporting idols?” Morgan asks.

Michael Jordan,” responds Phelps. “He changed the sport of basketball in my eyes. On and off the court, the guy made basketball what it is. And, you know, what he did.”

What the basketball Hall of Famer did, was rewrite the history of his craft, much in the same way Phelps is doing with his. A six-time NBA champion, and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Jordan’s overall talent was rivaled only by his overwhelming will to win, a trait not lost on the equally-competive Phelps:

“I think one of the coolest things that I loved about him was it didn’t matter what he had going on off the court or if he was sick or this, that. He never used an excuse,” explains the man who has twice tied the record with eight medals of any type at a single Olympics. “He came out every single night on the court and did what he had to do to get his job done. That’s what champions do. It doesn’t matter what else is going on when you walk in to your arena, whatever you excel at, you’re there to take care of the job that you have to do.”