The New York Daily News ran an online story under this headline yesterday:
Now, if you just read that headline, you'd think that Spitz was raining on MIchael's parade, but the quotes for the story were almost identical to those from the three-way televised interview with Bob Costas, Phelps and Spitz soon after Michael won his eighth gold medal of the Beijing Games.
"I think that the relationship between people that are great is they have a common thread of knowing how to beat their competitors and they know how to constantly be in shape and in top form," Spitz said. "If that's the case, I'd know everything about how to beat Michael. He'd also know everything to beat me. We'd have to tie."
Say what you want about Spitz, I watched the original interview and his response to Costas' question was an appropriately diplomatic reply to a question that really has no legitimate answer.
There's no way to match up athletes from different eras. If Spitz were 23 now and took advantage of all the most modern training techniques, nutritional advances and space age swimwear, who knows what he would do. Maybe it would have been nice for him to demur and say that Phelps would be better than him in any era, but there's no way of knowing that and he's under no obligation to diminish his own accomplishments.
Never been a huge Spitz fan, but he has played his proper role in Michaelmania.