The Great One joined us to discuss meeting the Greatest and much more. Here’s Wayne Gretzky on Muhammad Ali …
DP: Did you ever discuss your nickname with Muhammed Ali?
WG: He did with me one time. He came into the locker room in the old L.A. Forum in about 1983. Coincidentally enough, Mark Messier’s uncle Larry Messier use to be part of his management team and corporate marketing team. So he brought him down to the morning skate one day to meet the players and say hello, get pictures. He came into the locker room and said he was looking for the Great One. Because I’m not the great one … he’s the greatest of all time. So we just let him say it and OK that’s fair enough by me and good for you. Then I sat back in my chair and slumped in the corner.
DP: Was that the first time you met Ali?
WG: Yeah first time I met him.
DP: I think it’s one of those guys that you’re not quite sure how you’re going react when you see them, until you see them and then it’s pretty intimidating.
WG: It was very intimidating. Because he’s such a huge figure not just in the sports world but world wide. I’ll tell you one the great stories … I was in the Plaza hotel one time in New York. And I was standing in the lobby with Gordie Howe and I thought it was so amazing … Muhammed Ali came over to say hello to Gordie Howe. And I was standing there thinking wow two of the greatest athletes and two of the nicest people of all time just standing in the lobby of a hotel talking and chatting. That was one of the great sports moments for me. Something I’ll never ever forget. They were both extremely personable and did a lot for people who were less fortunate everywhere.