Jesse Owens

Sri Chinmoy: Like Jesse Owens — he started massaging Lang at the Berlin Olympics before his third turn at the long jump. He should have been concentrating on his own jump, but he went and started massaging his rival, Lang.

Mr. Jordan: There again is a point I guess we both have made: great athletes are willing to share even if it costs them a victory. They don't like to see someone else fail, so they help. Maybe they lose in one sense, but they don't lose in the true sense; they gain. Some would never help anyone because they think it would hurt them. But I think that when you feel that way, you are losing something very vital that you really need in your life — the fact that you shared with someone, that you helped someone and they helped you and that you both evolved a greater respect and a greater feeling because of that. The records in sports are filled with stories of this nature. I remember Jesse Owens in a national championship meet. All the sprinters and starters were on the line getting ready to go, and one of my teammates who was in the same race with him broke his shoelace. Jesse Owens was standing at the starting line and he said, "Wait a minute" to the starter, walked across to his bag, pulled out a shoe and pulled the shoelace out and went over and laced the guy's shoe for him before the National Championship, and then proceeded to beat him. That's the kind of man Jesse Owens was: a very, very rare breed. But that's what he was like. He had no doubts in his mind about his ability, and he didn't feel it was going to hurt him to take time for somebody else. Then he went ahead and did what he had planned to do all the time.

Sri Chinmoy: Sometimes he used to compete against horses. He could have easily kept it a secret that the starter used to fire the gun near the horse's ear to frighten the horse and delay his start.

Mr. Jordan: Fire close to the ear, and while the horse rears, you are on your way. I know.

Sri Chinmoy: In his book he mentions it.

Mr. Jordan: I know. Jesse and I talked about that a number of times. I said, "You devil, you!" He said, "Well, I couldn't beat the horse if we didn't make the horse stop for a moment and give me a head start." We had a lot of laughs together. In fact, the last time we saw each other, we spent time together. I had asked him to come here to speak at Stanford at a large banquet that we hold annually for the best athletes of the school. He came and gave a very inspirational speech. That was just shortly before he passed away. At least I had the privilege of being with him at that time and reminiscing with him about our thirty-five years of experiences and friendships and the people we loved and knew in our careers. Now he is gone, but he is still a part of our lives and will always be. We have to be thankful for all the opportunities that are given us by virtue of sport to express ourselves. There are many, many ways to express ourselves; sport isn't the only one. You certainly are one who expounds that thesis about as well as anyone in that you create poetry, art and music as well as run and meditate and do all the things that are important in our life. I admire what you are accomplishing. I compliment you for it.