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Tag: Tiger Woods

Diamond in the Ruff


It has clearly been a tough week for Tiger Woods. Over at Esquire, Charles Pierce weighs in with his take:

Tiger Woods and I go back a long ways. A little bit over twelve years, truth be told. Back then, I wrote a profile of him just prior to his winning the 1997 Masters, the first major accomplishment of his professional career. Over the course of a day’s worth of interviews, which were themselves the result of negotiations with his People at the International Management Group that were so protracted they should have been moved to Panmunjom, Tiger made some distasteful remarks and told some puerile and sexist jokes. Seeing as how they occurred during my limited interview time, I included them in my story, along with some not-overly-subtle intimations that Tiger had a reputation even among golfers as something of a chaser. The quotes were a Media Thing for a brief time, and the ensuing dust storm looks positively charming compared to what’s certainly coming after the events of this past weekend, which already appears to be something between Al Cowlings on the highway and an episode of The Real Housewives of Gated Communities. Back then, all that happened was that Tiger’s People at the International Management Group accused me of wiretapping a limo driver. (Me and Gordon Liddy!) And that Tiger’s father, Earl, whom I still miss, told Charlie Rose he hoped my story wouldn’t do permanent damage to his son’s career, and that Charlie Rose waved a copy of the magazine and told Earl he intended never to read the story. This is why Earl was an entertaining con man and Charlie Rose is a salon-sniffing Beltway yahoo.

Better still, Esquire has reprinted Pierce’s classic 1997 profile, “The Man. Amen.”

Well worth checking out.

The Most Valuable Greatest of All Time


One of the reasons I enjoy reading Joe Posnanski’s blog is because he relishes talking about sports the way fans do. He takes bar room topics, often in list form, and riffs, with reason and humor and a sense of fun. Who was the best so-and-so, what was the greatest such-and-such. The enthusiasm he shows for this kind of banter is what makes Pos so appealing–and he’s as well-liked a sports writer as I’ve ever met. The sabr-numbers crowd dig him and the mainstream guys like him too.

I was in Pos-mode the other day when I read Chris Ballard’s SI cover story on LeBron James. King James is only 24, a man-child, physical-mental freak of historically great proportions. The guy is twenty someodd pounds shy of 300, for crying out loud. I had no idea he was that big. And he’s so fast. He could play strong safety in the NFL.

Along with Kobe Bryant, James is the greatest player in the game and he’s only getting better. So I thought, when we talk about the greatest basketball players in the post-Jordan Era, it’s got to be Shaq, who you can’t really compare with Jordan because of the position; Kobe, who has won three titles and is certainly great, but not at Jordan’s level, especially off the court in terms of mainstream popularity and influence; and James.

Of course the league has been filled with other iconic players since Jordan level, including Allen Iverson, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett, but not ones whose appeal crossed over to a wider audience. They are just hall of famers in the game. Nobody has reached the level Jordan attained. Jordan followed the greatestness of Magic and Bird seemlessly and he brought it to a crescendo that was peerless.

I thought about guys on that level—Jordan and Tiger Woods, Babe Ruth—as I read an old GQ article by the novelist William Kennedy. In 1956, Kennedy was a kid reporter working for the Albany-Times Union when he interviewed Louis Armstrong, who was in town for a gig. Kennedy went up to his hotel room and talked with him for an hour and a half. He wrote a short nothing piece on it for the paper but saved his notes.

My awe and reverence for Louis continued to grow through the ensuing years, and somewhere in the late 1970s I conducted an after-dinner poll as to who was the most valuable person who had ever lived, and Satchmo won, with five votes. William Faulkner got four, Michangelo three, Beethoven, Muhammad Ali and Tolstoy two each, and Dostoyevsky and Busby Berkeley one each.

…He was a giant in his youth: the first major soloist in jazz, the man to whom every last jazz, swing, modern jazz and rock musician after hism has been and is indebted, some via the grand-larceny route. Music has changed radically since the seminal days of jazz, but Satchmo’s achievement has not been diminished. No one has superseded him in jazz eminence the way Crosby superseded Jolson and Sinatra superseded Crosby and the Beatles superseded Elvis, and I will never know who or what really superseded the Beatles.

Who else, in sports, in the arts, in popular culture, is on this level?


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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver