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." (Also Read: Federer Hits Season Fifty)
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.