To parody one of my all-time favorite movies, Forrest Gump, sixth-time and reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson on Wednesday went to the White House, again, and visited with the President, again. I’m not sure if he drank his fill of Dr. Peppers, but thats beside the point, anyway.
The reason I bring up the fact that Johnson made his most recent of multiple trips to the White House on Wednesday is a statement made by President Barack Obama during that visit in honor of Johnson’s most recent Sprint Cup.
I realize Johnson has his haters; heck, there was an uproar on social media after one of his recent wins during which at least one NASCAR fan and Johnson hater hoped for Johnson’s plane to crash on the way home. While I realize that fans love some drivers and loathe others, that’s an extreme that I don’t think is acceptable. But that’s another topic for another time.
Anyway, back to Johnson’s visit to the White House and President Obama’s speech in Johnson’s honor. In his speech, Obama touched on Johnson’s frequent trips to the White House because of his frequent championships and at one point referred to Johnson as the greatest NASCAR driver ever by saying:
“He won a few titles, took a two-year break, decided, you know what, it is not that interesting, and then got back to winning again. And now opposing drivers are saying things like, ‘Unfortunately, we are driving during the Jimmie Johnson era. He’s the best there ever was.’”
That wasn’t the quote that irked Johnson haters, though. Actually, that part of the speech seemed to go unnoticed. I guess that’s the type of thing Johnson haters have conditioned themselves to simply ignore. But there was one thing the President said that seemed to really get the haters all riled up.
I guess you can call Johnson the greated of all-time, if you want, but apparently, you better not ever refer to him as the “Michael Jordan of NASCAR.”
Here’s his exact quote
“Jimmie Johnson is pretty much the Michael Jordan of NASCAR.
Yep, that’s what the Johnson haters got all riled up about. President Obama had the nerve to compare Johnson to Michael Jordan. Of all the things Obama said in his speech, was that statement really that big of a deal?
I get the comparison, and even if I hadn’t, Obama pointed it out. Johnson won six Sprint Cups in eight years. Jordan-led Chicago Bulls teams won six NBA titles in eight years. Given that the President is a basketball fan, I could see how that would be the best reference for him to use.
On social media, I saw arguments saying legends like Richard Petty, David Pearson and Dale Earnhardt should be the ones compared to Jordan, not Johnson. Of course there were also folks who thought another basketball player should’ve been used for comparison. Since Jordan’s retired, some said LeBron James should have been the comparison, not Jordan.
Really, is this one comparison that big of a deal? Jordan, LeBron, Johnson, Earnhardt, Petty. Not only did/do these men compete in different sports, they compete/competed at different times, and in the case of the NASCAR drivers metioned, in different eras. Is there really a fair comparison, anyway? Each was/is great in his sport during his time. Let’s just leave it at that.
What do you think? Take a poll here
Click here to see video footage of a portion of Obama’s speech.
Also, check out the photo gallery of images from Johnson’s visit to the White House (photos courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)