Michael Jordan credited Tiger Woods for making golf more than just a white man’s sport. The NBA legend has been one of the most avid golfers in league history, so it comes to no surprise to see his appreciation of Woods, who became one of the first notable black golfers in the PGA.
“Obviously Jack [Niklaus] won more during the time he played,” Michael Jordan told Cigar Aficionado during a recent interview. “Tiger evolved it to where it crossed a lot of different boundaries — where it’s not just a white guy’s sport.”
“Now, does that constitute him being the greatest? Does that mean he’s any less than Jack — I think [the sentiment] is unfair.”
It didn’t take long for the topic to turn into a GOAT conversation, where Jordan expertly navigated it the same way he’s done so throughout his time off the court:
“I won 6 championships, Bill Russell won 11 — does that make Bill Russell better than me or make me better than him? No, because we played at different eras,” said Michael Jordan. “So, when you try to equate who’s the greatest of all time, it’s an unfair parallel. It’s an unfair choice. I think those are the demons that obviously Tiger had to live with and he’s gonna be challenged, he’s gonna be graded upon that but for me, I think they’re both great. I would never say one is greater than the other.”
This is hardly the first time Michael Jordan has reeled this type of opinion, always composed and noting that cross-era comparisons are often a byproduct of what ifs.
In this case, the Jack Nicklaus-Tiger Woods comparison is somewhat similar to the Russell-Jordan one, even if the Boston Celtics great played a different position in a very different era of the NBA.
It’s tough to make an apples-to-apples comparison when going across generations, but it’s refreshing to hear Jordan have a mighty appreciation for Tiger’s legacy, even if he hasn’t written the final chapter in his book.