Cultural Moments

#10

Michael Phelps’s Olympic Sweep

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Phelps in the 4x100 meter relay in Beijing

Phelps in the 4x100 meter relay in Beijing

When I was watching Michael Phelps win all those gold medals in Beijing, I thought to myself, man, there’s the perfect athlete. You look at his body, his performance, and you just assume he’s got a perfect diet, probably takes a lot of pills from the GNC, all that. But you know what? When we hung out, it was all burgers and french fries—and a bunch of other stuff I’m not allowed to eat anymore. I was like, “Yo, Michael, is this what you eat? All the time? How do you do what you do?” And he replied: “I just go out and do it.” So now I think of him as the nonperfect perfect athlete. And by that I mean, he shows you how a great work ethic and pure determination can take you further than any so-called perfect preparation routine. I’ve seen him work and I’ve seen other guys work. And with Michael, he’ll take a hundred laps in the pool, just as a warmup. In order for him to lose, he’s going to have to beat himself. He just loves the competition.

O’Neal plays center for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Follow him on Twitter.

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