“Thank goodness I’ve never been as fat as these guys”
Some athletes are famous, and some athletes are popular. Charles Barkley has always been in front of the camera. He cemented his celebrity status decades ago. But he’s the first person to admit he’s not famous for Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods.
Chuck has been friends with MJ and Woods at different times in his life. He’s more than used to the limelight himself, but said he’s never seen anything quite like the way people behave when they meet Jordan or Tiger.
And he thanked his lucky stars that he will never have to.
Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are two of the most famous athletes in history
No one surpassed His Airness in terms of celebrity status in the 1990s. Everything about Jordan has been copied and admired – the baggy shorts, the knee-high pose, the chewing gum, the trend reversal – to the bandage on his arm and the shoes on his feet.
He even made the headlines for a minor league baseball team. He played basketball alongside Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Bill Murray.
MJ had signed sponsorship deals with Nike, Hanes, Gatorade, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Wheaties. According to Biography.com, he started a charity golf tournament that featured Wayne Gretzky, Michael Phelps, Chevy Chase, Samuel L. Jackson and Mark Wahlberg,
Woods may have stolen the headliner from MJ in the late 90s and 2000s. While Jordan had the shoes, the bracelet and the poses, Tiger had the fist pump and the red shirt combo / black pants on Sunday during a major.
Woods burst onto the national scene at the age of 21 when he won the 1997 Masters. He won 13 other majors and was named 10-time PGA Player of the Year.
Basketball was a famous sport before MJ. Tiger took golf to another level on his own.
Charles Barkley said he had never seen a celebrity invaded by fans like Jordan and Tiger were
The Round Mound of Rebound has rubbed shoulders with famous people throughout his life. He was part of the Dream Team in 1992 – members of that team mentioned feeling like The Beatles whenever they got anywhere. Since Chuck loves to talk and never holds back, he was one of the most recognized players on this team full of world famous celebrities.
But he said in an interview on The Dan Patrick Show that his status is nothing compared to that of Jordan and Woods:
“I was close to Michael and Tiger at one point. … Look, I’ve been around everyone to some extent, but I’ll say this: Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are the only two athletes I’ve ever known where people completely lose their minds.
“When Michael was in his prime and Tiger was always Tiger, those were the only two guys I’ve ever been with… Like people get excited when you’re with other guys, but people absolutely – when Michael was in its prime, and same thing with Tiger, people stop and watch. It was crazy. It was amazing and crazy. Thank God I was never as tall as these guys.
Charles Barkley on the fame surrounding Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods
Barkley, ironically, is now in the spotlight more than MJ and Tiger but is happy that he is never so famous.
Jordan is still there as majority governor of the Charlotte Hornets. The last dance the documentary also put him back in the spotlight. But he’s nowhere near the level of fame he had at the height of the Chicago Bulls championship race.
Woods had a disappointing and controversial few years off the course, and back injuries virtually ended his career. His Masters 2019 victory catapulted him onto the stage in an epic way, but he’s also gone into the background now.
Barkley is a mainstay of the NBA on TNT show, where his gift for gab served him well. You can always count on the star 11 times for a shot and a good quote.
But he will never reach the level of fame that Jordan and Tiger have enjoyed, and he seems to be totally satisfied with it.
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