ESPN recently produced a long-form piece from senior writer Wright Thompson detailing the rise and recent dramatic fall from Tiger Woods. The most famous golfer of all-time has recently seen a dramatic fall from the top, which includes an absence from the 2016 Masters, in part due to injuries but also some demons outside of the clubhouse.
Most of those are documented in this piece from Thompson but there is one story that tied in Tiger Woods relationship with two former stars from his generation. His introverted lifestyle was on full display during one particular interaction he had with Michael Jordan and Derek Jeter at a club.
Following from Thompson’s piece.
One night he went to a club in New York with Derek Jeter and Michael Jordan. Jeter and Jordan circulated, talking with ease to one beautiful woman after another. (Both declined to comment about the episode.) At one point, Tiger walked up to them and asked the question that lives in the heart of every junior high boy and nearly every grown man too.
“What do you do to talk to girls?”
Jeter and Jordan looked at each other, then back at Tiger, sort of stunned.
Go tell ‘em you’re Tiger Woods, they said.
While that was all well and fun, it speaks to the bigger problem with Tiger. Despite his superstardom as the best golfer in the world unlike Jeter and Jordan, Tiger is an introvert and it was brought to light in this fantastic 10,000 plus word piece.
Jordan went onto expand on his relationship with Woods and where he thinks the golfer is at now mentally. MJ, one of Tiger’s longtime friends talks about Tiger’s immediate future, and discusses what it is like for a superstar athlete, like MJ or Woods,to step out of the limelight at the end of their career. MJ struggled with it and eventually came back to play but eventually found his calling as a behind-the-scenes face for his franchise, the Charlotte Hornets. He thinks that Tiger might actually be looking forward to retiring despite the fact that Woods doesn’t seem to know how to bring his career to an end. MJ also goes on to say that although he and Tiger have a close relationship, the six-time NBA champion doesn’t have the heart to tell him the truth about his current situation. I’m sure Tiger now knows.
“I don’t know if he’s happy about that or sad about that,” MJ says, while speaking about the idea of Tiger transitioning into retirement. “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 thing is,” MJ says, “I love him so much that I can’t tell him, ‘You’re not gonna be great again.’”
After Jordan showed Thompson some of the recent text messages he exchanged with Tiger, mostly involving getting their kids together after school, Jordan talks about how he worries about what the future holds for Tiger. He also says he’s concerned that Tiger hasn’t been able to move on from everything that happened to him after the death of his father just about ten years ago.
“What does he do every day?” MJ asks. “I don’t know. I haven’t the slightest idea. I do not know.”
“That bothers him more than anything,” says MJ, who reveals that Tiger routinely reads online comments about himself. “It looms. It’s in his mind. It’s a ship he can’t right and he’s never going to. What can you say? The thing about T-Dub, he cannot erase. That’s what he really wants. He wants to erase the things that happened.”
You can check out the full Tiger Woods piece here.