9 Things We Learned From Unplugged With Mick And John
Conversations this good don’t happen every year.
When Mick and John linked up online last week, the conversation quickly delved into a competitive surfing Masterclass.
It’s safe to assume the entire cast of world tour ranked surfers watched or listened to this candid chat and promptly made changes to their approach—we’ve heard as much from at least a dozen.
The rapport and mutual respect between these two greats enabled an environment for new levels of vulnerability we’ve previously never seen before from both Mick and John and below are 9 areas of interest we thought worthy of running the highlighter over.
1. John John cares, immensely.
The idea that John’s ability is all-natural— that multiple World Titles are something someone casually stumbles into is beyond preposterous. Still, with emotional sleight of hand, John manages to fool a huge chunk of observers with his effortless and unflappable demeanour into thinking just that. Mick was able to reveal that JJF’s zipped-tight stoicism is all just part of John’s competitive approach. As Mick put it, John’s the “Roger Federer of surfing”.
2. John John is thinking about Gabe.
When Kelly and Andy were in the midst of Surfing’s Greatest Rivalry, not a day passed without media folk offering ample opportunities for them to hurl spice in each other’s direction.
Despite injury not letting Gab and John’s long-smoldering rivalry combust into anything close to the flamewar we’re sure to see one day, the very acknowledgment of their rivalry—and chatter from both Gab and John—has been noticeably lacking.
Interestingly in his chat with Mick, John wasn’t asked directly about Gab once during the interview, yet he mentioned his name on five different occasions. It turns out the best surfer in the world right now is driven by the other best surfer in the world right now and not afraid to talk about it.
Every Batman needs a Bane.
3 – Mick doesn’t mind poking the bear (the bear being the GOAT).
When John mentions that Mick might be interested in coming back and joining Kelly on the ‘stay on tour forever program’ Mick quickly ices that idea and throws a little barb in Kelly’s direction, knowing full well that Kelly will hear this (because he hears everything).
Is Mick trying to light a fire under him for when the tour resumes?
Or, is he just trying to get him on the show to be next week’s guest? Anyone that’s seen Kelly go to war on Instagram knows, you don’t get his attention with compliments.
4 – At the peak of his powers Mick was riddled with self-doubt.
It’s hard to imagine a World Title being spawned out of anything other than a cultivated arrogance that spills into necessary narcissism. A belief in your powers so strong you feel like you can slice anyone’s head off and drink their blood, regardless of conditions.
2013 certainly didn’t look like that for Mick.
5 – John and Rip Curl have been talking.
A couple of months back we spread the John and Rip Curl rumours because, well, they made sense. Since then, the world’s economies have started burning to the ground and there’ll be no new deals.
Now John’s not exactly a fire sale kind of talent so we haven’t seen any confirmation on this potential partnership.
Regardless, it doesn’t take the FBI’s top body language analyst to make a call on what John’s body lingo reveals when this is brouht up.
6 – Mick and John both steal surfboards.
Surfboard designs, that is. Mick’s partnership with Darren Handley and John’s with Jon Pyzel are both somewhat Open Relationships—within reason, of course—and this polyurethane polyamory plays a key role in the development process for their highly tuned weapons.
7 – The heat with Zeke at Bells changed John.
There’s a book you might have heard of by Sun Tzu called The Art Of War, about ancient Chinese military strategy. Despite being written in 5th century BC it’s still considered the ultimate blueprint for battle.
Translated to English, it’s 108 pages, but allow me to condense all of this small print into one short sentence for you: “Sneak up and surprise the bastards.”
This is exactly what Zeke did at Bells when he utilised the unprecedented technique of aggressively hovering all over John between sets like a Labrador being offered a bowl of cereal. John didn’t see it coming, he repeatedly fell and would go onto to lose the heat.
It was a wake-up call for John.
8 – Mick and John both Visualised their way to World Titles.
It’s three years into his retirement and Mick’s happy to lay it all out for anyone interested to hear about the mental trickery it takes to be a champion. John is one of these interested people and many times throughout the chat John reversed the roles of the interview to get deeper into Mick’s insight.
John’s internal methods don’t come without some prodding but it’s interesting to note that even the guy that does airs in his sleep still has times when he feels like he’s too tired to stick an air.
9 – 2009 split Coolangatta in half and it rattled Mick.
Competing neck and neck for a World Title was always going to put Mick and Joel’s camaraderie on ice for a while. What the lifelong pals also had to deal with was the division of their tight knit surf community, who started picking sides and weren’t shy about letting Mick and Joel know where they stood.
Can you imagine heckling from car windows to taunt either of these hometown heroes? The blasphemy! It happened.
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