Tiger Talk: Michael Jordan Defends Tiger Woods’ Legacy

Michael Jordan seems to be on the roll this Thursday. He has already discussed how he his not a fan of superteams in the NBA, and now he defending Tiger Woods’ legacy and making some pretty good arguments, to say the least.

Jordan sat down with Marvin R. Shanken for the Cigar Aficionado, and was asked about the 14-time major champion and what he thinks of the issues Woods has faced off the course.

“He’s in a transitional period; we athletes, we go through that,” Jordan said. “Then we have to be adults, we have to make sound decisions. He is, to me, in a very unique situation. Tiger played in his peak somewhere towards the end of my career. And the what changed between that timeframe to now.

“Social media, Twitter, all those types of things that has invaded their personality and their personal times as individuals. I don’t know if I could have survived in this Twitter time where you don’t have the privacy that you would want, and what seems to be very innocent could always be misinterpreted.”

Jordan is usually the subject in ‘greatest of all time’ conversations, but this time he was asked that question for a different sport. MJ couldn’t give a definitive answer when it came to choosing who was better between Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods.

“First of all, you’re never going to say who’s the greatest of all time,” Jordan said. “To me, I think that’s more for PR and more for selling stories and getting hype. Jack and Tiger never played against each other. They never played in the same tournament. They never played with the same equipment. They never played with the same length of golf course. I never played against Wilt Chamberlain. I never played against Jerry West. To now say that one is greater than the other is being a little bit unfair. I think when you can see the similarities and you understand, this is one way you can judge the tow—how much impact did each change or evolve the game?

Jordan compared it to basketball and how the game is different for athletes in different time periods. He doesn’t even know how he’d fare against the likes of Wilt Chamberlin, who was the most dominant basketball player in the 1960’s.

“I never played against Wilt Chamberlain. I never played against Jerry West. To now say that one is greater than the other is being a little bit unfair. I think when you can see the similarities and you understand, this is one way you can judge the tow—how much impact did each change or evolve the game? Obviously, Jack won more [majors] during the time he played; Tiger evolved it.”

This is one of the more intelligent arguments when it comes to comparing Nicklaus and Woods. They come from two different time periods, played against different opponents, and most importantly played with far different equipment.

When Nicklaus started playing, he was still using the wooden heads for his driver and woods (go figure). Tiger grew up when golf’s equipment began to evolve into the rocket launchers it has become today.

So would Nicklaus have scored better than Tiger with better equipment on longer courses? It’s tough to tell.

It would be more interesting to see how the two would play in a final pairing on Sunday afternoon at any major championship venue (in their prime of course). Sure, we have the technology to simulate these things but it doesn’t factor in the human element. And that is why these questions can truly never be answered.

So Jordan is right. There is no way we can compare these two superstars from different decades. And that goes for every sport…not just golf.