Gary Lineker: Former England striker on playing golf with Michael Jordan and Samuel L Jackson

A chance encounter…

Everyone’s got a story about Michael Jordan – including our Gary.

There’s a gaping hole in our lives where live sport used to be right now, but documentary series The Last Dance, all about Michael Jordan’s rampaging Chicago Bulls team, is helping to fill the void.

If you’ve seen any of the series, it seems like everyone has dropped in to share thoughts on when they were touched by greatness after meeting or watching Jordan.

The late Kobe Bryant speaks about how Jordan coached him like a big brother.

OG music legends like Nas and Justin Timberlake speak about how they just had to have a pair of Nike Air Jordans growing up.

Former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama weigh in on his influence.

And, last night, one of our home grown sporting icons, one Gary Lineker, went online to share a story about the time he met one of the world’s best ever athletes.

I just watched episode eight of the wonderful The Last Dance. Thought I’d share the story of the day I played golf with Michael Jordan. It was a Thursday night and I got a call from my agent. He said: “I’ve had Michael Jordan’s people on the phone and he wants to play at Sunningdale.”

I was a member so he thought I could help. He said: “There’s three of them: Michael and two of his basketball friends and they want to play on Sunday.” I said: “If it’s a Sunday they can’t play without a member, but I can host them (too right, I could).”

So Saturday night I get call from my agent: “There’s now six of them, two more friends and Samuel L Jackson.”

“I’ll need to find another member to play with the other three. I’ll call my friend, Queeny (former European tour player and Sunningdale member), I’m sure he’ll help.”

Thankfully he was free and available. I turned up at 8.30am. Keith, the club pro said: “Your guests have arrived, they’re on the putting green.” There they were, six of them, five giant basketball players and Samuel L Jackson ambling around, putting and smoking cigars.

The observing, quintessentially white elderly members were wide-eyed. We introduced ourselves and headed to the first tee. Now my mate Queeny liked a bet on the golf course and was a bit of a hustler. So we’re all stood there and Queeny says in his slightly posh voice….

“So Michael would you like bet, a little wager?” Michael says: “Sure, man.” Queeny says: “So how much would you like to play for?” Michael puffs on his cigar, looks straight at him, smiles and says: “Whatever makes you feel uncomfortable, man.”

Mr Jordan had already won the day.

Quite the line-up. We hope Samuel L Jackson was wearing his Kangol hat back-to-front, as is his wont.

Anyway, if you’ve watched any of The Last Dance, you may have noticed that MJ likes a round of golf. In fact, he seems to like anything with a competitive element, especially when there’s a bet to be had.

The Boston Celtics’ Danny Ainge remembers how beating Jordan in a round of golf the day before a play-off in 1986 almost cost the Celtics.

“I took a few bucks off of Michael that day, and we’re talking trash to each other,” Ainge says in the documentary. “That might have been a mistake.”

The next day, Jordan, apparently motivated by yesterday’s defeat, went on to score an NBA play-off record 63 points in Game 2, forcing the game to double overtime before Boston scraped a 135-131 win.

Another of our low-key favourite moments is when a security guard beats him at a game of ‘pitching quarters’ (in our school, it was called ‘jingles’ – you may know it by another name).

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