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If you ever find yourself in a discussion that somehow involves both NBA all-stars and the all-stars of Ryan Coogler movies, you’ll likely find yourself in a sticky situation as you have to talk about both Michael Jordan and Michael B. Jordan at the same time. How confusing! Imagine if these two stars ever met? Surely our simulation would be unable to fix the glitch and immediately self-destruct.
Well, it turns out this highly specific question already has an answer. Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan is on the cover of this month’s Men’s Health, and in the accompanying interview, the actor revealed that he is asked all the time if he’s ever met Michael Jordan. The answer is no, and it will stay that way for awhile longer still if he has anything to say about it.
“I never met Michael Jordan. I never want to officially meet him until I’m at a point where he knows who I am and I know who he is,” the upcoming Fahrenheit 451 star said. “And it would be our mutual respect thing. Until then it would just be a ‘this guy has your name, haha.’ I don’t want that. So that pushes me to keep working too. These things motivate me.”
Although this seems like a loose motivating factor, whatever works, right? Plus, considering that Michael B. Jordan played a pivotal main character in the third highest-earning movie in the country and has subsequently become one of Hollywood's rising stars, chances are Michael Jordan knows who he is by now.
At the same time, though, the actor says that his name has specifically shaped the person who he is today because of its association with the basketball player.
“I’m competitive. I want to compete in anything I do,” the actor explained. “That came from my name. Growing up in sports and having a name like Michael Jordan and being teased, I had to compete. I couldn’t be the guy with the name and not be good at it. That carried over to everything. I’m like, I’ve got to be just as great if not greater than he was in his field.”
Michael B. Jordan has spoken about the effect his name has had on him in the past, too. In a 2013 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, he said that one of the downsides of having a famous name is that sometimes people—like, for example, pizza delivery guys—don’t believe he is who he says he is. But the actor isn’t named after the basketball player, but his father, Michael A. Jordan, instead.
“He didn’t really realize what he was going to put me through the first 26 years of my life,” he said.