NBA legend Michael Jordan knows something about greatness — and he saw it on display last week at the Masters.
“I took two years off to play baseball, but nothing like that,” Jordan told The Athletic, according to Sports Illustrated. “I’m pretty sure he questioned himself, whether he could get it back, and he had to put a lot of work in. But he took it head-on. He had to change his game; he had to change his perspective a little bit.
“To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”
Like a lot of people, Michael Jordan watched Tiger Woods win the Masters Sunday with awe and wonder. Like almost no one, MJ could relate to how Woods did it. I talked with him about it, in @TheAthleticDC: https://t.co/sdNrf84NNs
— David Aldridge (@davidaldridgedc) April 18, 2019
Jordan thought the myriad injuries Woods has suffered over the last nine years would be hard to overcome.
“I never thought he’d get back physically,” Jordan said, reported SI. “He didn’t think he’d get back physically. But he did it. No one expected him to be back the way he is now.
“He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable. Mentally, you always think you can. But you can’t answer to what your body has to deal with.”
Jordan and Woods have been friends for a long time, but the relationship cooled in 2009 after the scandal broke about Woods’ extramarital affairs and subsequent divorce from Elin Nordegren, according to a 2017 ESPN article.
They remained friends, even though they spoke less frequently. A 2016 ESPN feature story on Woods included some passages, and Jordan quotes, that take on a different light today.
“The real work of his life — how to deal with having been Tiger Woods — will begin only once he accepts that his golfing career is finished,” ESPN’s Wright Thompson wrote. “All driven people experience a reckoning at the end of their life’s work, but when that work feels incomplete, or somehow tainted, the regrets can fester with time.
“This reckoning is coming for Tiger, which worries his friend Michael Jordan, who knows more about the next 10 years of Tiger’s life than nearly anyone alive. It’s jarring to be dominant and then have it suddenly end.
“‘I don’t know if he’s happy about that or sad about that,’ Jordan says. ‘I think he’s tired. I think he really wishes he could retire, but he doesn’t know how to do it yet, and I don’t think he wants to leave it where it is right now. If he could win a major and walk away, he would, I think.'”
The article also detailed a night Jordan and Woods went out together with a group of friends and had some laughs.
“The thing is,” Jordan said in that 2016 article, “I love him so much that I can’t tell him, ‘You’re not gonna be great again.'”
From one 🐐 to another.
— ESPN (@espn) April 18, 2019
As we sit here three years later, Woods is back, having won his fifth green jacket. Given where he was two years ago — and few would know more about his state than Jordan — it really is amazing what Tiger accomplished.
Now, the former Chicago Bull is bullish on Woods’ future.
Woods’ opponents “got problems,” Jordan said this week, reported SI. “His confidence is only going to build from here.”
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