• Former swimmer and Olympian Michael Phelps recently shared how he identifies with NBA legend Michael Jordan
  • Phelps revealed that the former basketball athlete was everything he wanted to be growing up
  • The 34-year-old Olympian also opened up about feeling "overwhelmed" due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic

Michael Phelps recently shared how much he idolizes NBA legend Michael Jordan to the extent that he became an “a--hole” to his teammates—just like the ex-basketball athlete.

As the single most dominant athlete in Olympic history, Phelps, 34, is definitely all about the pursuit of greatness even when it means having to idolize and embody a great athlete.

The former swimmer recently spoke with Yahoo Sports, opening up about his triumphant athletic journey and how Jordan became the icon of his much-touted sports career. "To put it quite blunt, everyone saying he was an a--hole (sic)," Phelps said. "But I would say the same thing about myself."

Despite swimming being known as an individual sport, the 34-year-old Olympian recalled his training, saying that he used to be an “a--hole” because he wanted to help make sure everybody in the swim team had the exact same chances he had.

"We're all in there working together as a team even though it's an individual sport,” the retired swimmer stated. “We want the best for each other so I'm gonna challenge them and I'm gonna make sure that they're getting stress in practice that they're gonna face in a meet.”

At the moment, Phelps is the most successful and most accoladed Olympian of all time, having garnered a whopping 28 overall medals—more than anyone ever, Yahoo Sports noted. The former swimming athlete also holds the all-time records for both Olympic medals and gold medals for individual swimming events.

And on embodying the former basketball athlete and NBA legend, Phelps shared that Jordan was definitely what he had wanted to be growing up. What the Olympian saw in Jordan’s willful commitment in his basketball career was what he also wanted for himself and swimming.

“I wanted to do in swimming what he did in the sport of basketball,” Phelps said of the “Last Dance” star. “In my opinion, he completely changed and grew the sport of basketball to an unbelievable place and heights. That’s really what I kind of replicated my career off of.”

Meanwhile, in a recent report by ESPN, Phelps revealed that he has currently been feeling “overwhelmed” due to the ongoing coronavirus health scare. The Olympian has also spoken frankly about his struggle with depression, acknowledging his past suicidal attempts.

Phelps told ESPN that without a fixed routine, his moods have been “jumping up and down and all around” and also added that the pandemic has pushed him to endure one of the toughest periods of his life.

Yet amid the struggles that keep tugging with his mental health, Phelps remains optimistic and thankful that he and his family have been safe. Unlike many others, the retired swimmer shared that he is grateful for not having to worry about monetary concerns or food to put on the table.

Michael Phelps
Michael Phelps celebrates after winning his 23rd Olympic gold medal. Getty Images