NEW YORK (AP) His Airness is now a member of Club Fed.
Michael Jordan was a special guest in Roger Federer’s courtside box at the U.S. Open on Tuesday night, the rare spectacle of an all-time great in one sport cheering on an all-time great from another.
“I know nothing about tennis,” Jordan said in an interview with ESPN, adding that he was nevertheless fascinated by how smooth Federer looked on court. “He’s a good athlete. I know he played basketball a bit.”
Jordan, seated in the same row with Vogue editor and longtime Federer friend Anna Wintour, clapped wildly when Federer ran down a drop shot for a winner in his 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (4) first-round victory over Marinko Matosevic. Jordan then got cheers of his own when his image was flashed on Arthur Ashe Stadium’s massive screens.
The Federer-Jordan friendship was apparently a match made in Nike heaven. The two longtime endorsers got together recently to help design a new Federer shoe inspired by a classic 1988 Air Jordan model. Federer was wearing the white and gray sneaker on the court.
The 51-year-old Jordan and the 33-year-old Federer got together for dinner the previous night, and Federer posted a selfie arm-in-arm with his Airness on his Instagram site.
“It’s just amazing having Michael here,” Federer said after the match. “Growing up he was my big sporting idol. … Having him here is unbelievably special and the collaboration is unique, so I love it.”
While the new shoe is officially listed as a joint project of the two greats, Jordan made it clear that Federer called the shots on the fine details.
“I don’t want you to play in a shoe that doesn’t feel well,” Jordan said, noting that every little bit helps as Federer is nearing the end of his career.
The second-seeded Federer, who holds a record 17 Grand Slam titles, is seeking his sixth U.S. Open crown, the same number of NBA championships won by Jordan.