Phil Mickelson greets then-Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash before a game in 2008. (John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated)
Phil Mickelson joked about his woefully underdeveloped jumping ability after he leaped a good -- oh, let's call it five inches -- in the air after sinking the winning putt at the 2004 Masters.
It turns out the man knows his limitations.
Mickelson was in Phoenix last week when he told another story illustrating his legendary lack of hops. He was at a Phoenix Suns game in 1999 when the team's mascot, the gorilla, threw him the ball as if to goad him into attempting the mascot's signature stunt: sprinting down the court, jumping onto a miniature trampoline and dunking the ball through the hoop. The popular lefty Mickelson was supposed to shake his head no, as if even he wouldn't be crazy enough to attempt such a feat, no doubt eliciting laughs from the assembled fans. Only, as Bob Young of azcentral.com explains, Mickelson went ahead and tried the shot.
Jerry Colangelo told of a risky stunt in 1999 involving Mickelson and the Suns Gorilla that nearly gave the then-Suns owner a cardiac episode but also perfectly captured the go-for-broke spirit of Mickelson.
“He was a big basketball fan, and one night, he gave me some real fear,” Colangelo said. “Whenever he was in town, he was at our games.
“One night, either at halftime or during a timeout, you know how the Gorilla jumps off the trampoline? All of a sudden I look up, and there’s Phil with the ball, and he’s about to run and jump off the trampoline.
“Just think about what could have happened. If he had gone down and gotten hurt, who knows what his future might have been?”
Yes, but did he make the dunk?
Mickelson, whose risk-taking has won him and lost him tournaments, and led to a broken leg on the ski slopes in 1994, filled in the rest of the story.
“I made the shot,” Mickelson said, emphasizing “shot.”For more news that golfers everywhere are talking about, follow @si_golf on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube video channel.
“But I wasn’t able to dunk it. When I jumped off the trampoline, I came up short of the rim. I wasn’t able to reach it. I didn’t propel myself forward enough. ... I laid it up and got it to go in.”
It is one of the few times Mickelson can be accused of laying up.