In NBA circles on social media, television or where ever, there is seemingly a daily discusson about who is the true GOAT in basketball, Michael Jordan or LeBron James. You can't turn on ESPN or Fox Sports 1 without being inundated with segments of pundits and talking heads breaking down what LeBron did last night that inches him closer to GOAT status.
And if anyone knows a thing or two about being compared to an all-time great, it's Tiger Woods. Throughout his entire career, the storyline has been his pursuit of Jack Nicklaus' record 18 major championships. Woods career took a steep decline and he has been stuck at 14 for a decade and doesn't look like a threat to break the record, but he knows about comparisons with all-time greats from personal experience.
When asked about the MJ vs. LeBron debate during the pre-tournament press conference Tuesday at the 2018 Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., Woods toed the line between without picking sides.
“They’re both great in different ways," Woods said, via Golfweek. "If you look at MJ, he was a prolific scorer and played defense like no other, was always first-team all defense. LeBron is different. He’s like a hybrid of MJ and Magic (Johnson), which is so different. He’s bringing up the ball a lot. MJ never really did that. I mean, he had Pip as a point forward a lot of times, and you would think that was kind of LeBron-ish, but they’re very different in how they help both teams.”
He went on to establish what greatness is and how LeBron James is great.
"First of all, I think that being great is doing something that no one can do but also what separates those people," Woods said. "The ones you mentioned like LeBron or what I'm think of with MJ or [Wayne] Gretzky, is just the duration. To be able to do it not just for one year, not just for one game, not just for a little spell, they're able to do it for a number of years and accumulate highlights we will always look at and they're peppered in our memories...
"What LeBron has done for 15 seasons now, it’s just remarkable. Cause it’s that type of longevity, and to be able to be up for that long a period of time, and to be able to adjust as well. Because we all know as we age we’re not going to be as athletic as we used to be, and so you have to do it different ways. And to be fluid and to adjust, and still be that talented and that good? Hats off to LeBron, and to all the people I just named."
Woods is talking more about LeBron because he is currently playing at an unfathomable elite level in the NBA Playoffs, his focus shouldn't be misconstrued as him picking LeBron over Jordan. It stands to reason Woods could identify with LeBron more than Jordan as the newcomer chasing the records and legend of a prior great in the sport.
But like Woods is short of Nicklaus' major championships record, James still is trying to catch Jordan's six rings.