When it comes to who’s the greatest golfer of all time, don’t expect Michael Jordan to give an answer.
Jordan, in speaking with Cigar Aficionado, said that he considers both Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus great, but he would never compare the two because they played in different eras.
“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.”
Jordan, who many believe is the greatest player in NBA history, said there is one way to compare the two, and that’s how much impact the player had on the game. It seemed as if Jordan gave the advantage to Woods on that one.
“Obviously, Jack won more during the time he played; Tiger evolved it to where it crossed a lot of its boundaries, where it’s not just a white guys’ sport; black guys, African-Americans, you know, all these play the game,” Jordan said. “And he played it at a level where he generated so much interest financially that it grew the game from a financial standpoint. Now, does that constitute him being the greatest? Does that mean he’s any less than Jack? I think it’s unfair. Yes, Jack has 18 majors and Tiger’s got 14, and that’s how people are judging certain things. I won six championships; Bill Russell won 11. Does that make Bill Russell better than me, or make me better than him? No, because we played in different eras.
“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 they’re both great and I would never say one is greater than the other.”
Jordan also talked about the state of Woods at the moment. The 14-time major champion hasn’t played competitively since February. He underwent a fourth back surgery in April, but recently has posted videos of himself hitting iron shots.
“He’s in a transitional period,” Jordan said. “You know, we athletes, we go through that. And then we have to be adults, we have to make sound decisions. He is, to me, in a very unique situation. Tiger played at his peak somewhere towards the end of my career. And then 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.”