Story of the most iconic sport friendship between Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan


Sports-hungry viewers will soon be able to wait impatiently for the lid to be lifted on Tiger Woods’ crazy life on and off the golf course.

After the success of Last The Last Dance ’on ESPN and Netflix, which covered Michael Jordan’s incredible rise, it’s time for the big Woods to face the same treatment later this year.

HBO will air a four-hour television series about Woods’ extraordinary life and career, which may coincide with the Masters rescheduled at Augusta National in November.

And as we prepare to uncover fascinating revelations, Sportsmail has taken a closer look at the sport’s most iconic friendship between Woods and Jordan, and how it all quickly collapsed between the pair …

Sports icons Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan formed a brilliant friendship at the time

The couple share a laugh during the Pro-Am at the Wachovia Championship in 2007

The couple share a laugh during the Pro-Am at the Wachovia Championship in 2007

Woods and Jordan had arguably had the most prominent celebrity friendships, for years the two great absolute sportsmen were inseparable.

And it all started when Woods, the golf icon and 15-time grand winner, was 14, harboring huge ambitions to reach the highest levels of sporting superiority.

How their friendship flourished was a huge testament to Woods’ self-confidence from an early age.

At 14, Woods compared himself in an interview with Jordan – where he also suggested that he could be taller than Jack Nicklaus, the man he would strive to overtake in terms of major triumphs.

“I could be a little like a Michael Jordan in basketball, something like that,” said a young Woods to TransWorld Sport in 1990. It was Tiger’s foresight – especially since Jordan was not even at the height of his powers within basketball.

And as Woods became famous on the golf course, this level of attention has aroused huge interest from the biggest stars in the world, and no more so than Jordan himself – the man he grew up idolizing .

But Woods had been warned not to become close friends of the NBA when he was about to rewrite golf history books.

In a biography called Tiger woods, written by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, the American was reportedly warned to stay away from the Chicago Bulls star in 1996 by John Merchant – a lawyer who helped the Woods family while he was at Stanford University.

“Michael can play basketball as well as anyone who has ever played the game,” said Merchant according to Yahoo Sports. “There’s nothing else Michael is good at. Nothing! And he’s had too many years in public. So he will try to use you.

But despite the warning, the golf prodigy refused to listen and instead made a huge connection with Jordan. When Woods turned professional in 1996, he immediately had something in common with his idol – the two being sponsored by Nike sportswear giants, which would open the door to the flourishing of their friendship.

Woods would reach out to Jordan, believing that their sports careers were following a similar trajectory.

Speaking in a session with Oprah Winfrey’s interview that day, Woods said, “I guess my association with Nike helped that. But Mike is in a position where I think my life is going.

“And I went through some problems, I didn’t know how to handle certain situations. Like managing visibility, loss of privacy, articles, just people in general, and Mike helped me because Mike was already there.

“He established himself as probably the best basketball player that has ever lived, and he is so well known as what a better person to identify me than not a movie star, a celebrity or something like that, but a down to earth guy, who is an athlete, who can relate to another athlete. And Mike is almost like my big brother right now.

Jordan would regularly attend professional golf competitions, including US team events

Jordan would regularly attend professional golf competitions, including US team events

Jordan watches closely as Woods takes center stage in 2004 Ryder Cup battle

Jordan watches closely as Woods takes center stage in 2004 Ryder Cup battle

Their immense admiration for the other was reciprocal, Jordan singing the praises of his great friend in an article in ESPN The Magazine in 2001.

Jordan wrote, “The ability to perform in the clutch comes from having the confidence to know you can. Where does this confidence come from? To have done it in the past. Sure, you have to do it the first time, but after that, you have a model that you can still stick to. It reassures you to do something you have done before.

“Today’s athlete is more confident than anyone else is Tiger Woods. Look at his file. If he has a lead, he keeps it. If he needs a big hit, he does it. And the more he does it – the more he gets out of it when he has to – the more confident he is that he can do it again.

Speaking of Woods’ winning mindset, Jordan added, “Tiger’s confidence is so high because of his work ethic and past success. And it works like it does today in the clutch because it has such confidence. If he wants to hang it around the damn tree, he will. The rest of us don’t have that confidence, that past success, so when we hang the stupid ball, it hits the tree.

Woods and Jordan regularly hung out privately and occasionally in joint appearances, including the 2007 Wachovia Championship (now called the Wells Fargo Championship).

As their friendship continued to grow, Jordan became more and more involved in the world of professional golf, appearing regularly at charity events and almost all team events in the United States.

“We can be linked on so many different levels,” said Woods after playing together in 2007. “Few people have gone through the same things we had to go through, and he did it first. So, because of that, I was able to basically select all the knowledge he has accumulated over the years.

But soon after, the world of Woods would collapse, which in turn marked the end of his great friendship with Jordan.

Woods then observes that his close friend Jordan plays for the Chicago Bulls in 1997

Woods then observes that his close friend Jordan plays for the Chicago Bulls in 1997

After his marital infidelities were exposed in 2009, Woods distanced himself from the public and those close to him.

For the most recognizable athlete in the world, the incident on November 27, 2009 in the early hours marked an extremely scandalous moment.

It ended with an indefinite break from sport as his personal life fell apart and marriage collapsed amid a series of alleged infidelities.

Two days after the first allegations of an extramarital affair were revealed, Woods shocked the world when he lost control of his SUV outside his Florida mansion, crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree after having withdrawn from its path. His wife at the time, Elin Nordegren, had to break a rear window with a golf club to force him out of the car.

“To date, I have no idea what has happened,” said Charles Barkley, another former close friend of Woods. “After that … thing, he just stopped talking to us. That’s all I know.’

Jordan would somewhat re-establish a friendship with Woods more than seven years after his public collapse. But their relationship has not been the same since.

And in 2016, Jordan spoke frankly about his former great friend in Wright Thompson’s ESPN article – providing a unique glimpse into Woods’ guilt.

“It bothers him more than anything,” said Jordan. “He is looming. It’s in his mind. It is a ship he cannot straighten and he never will. What can you do? The thing is T-Dub, he can’t erase it. This is what he really wants. He wants to erase the things that happened. ‘

As their friendship collapsed in 2009, the pair remain friendly - Jordan pictured here at the 2018 Ryder Cup after Woods

As their friendship fell apart in 2009, the pair remain friendly – Jordan pictured here at the 2018 Ryder Cup after Woods

Jordan also offered a depressing prediction for the rest of Woods’ playing career in 2016 after everything he had gone through. “The point is, I love him so much that I can’t tell him,” You’re not going to be great anymore. “

The article also provided other revelations about Woods’ privacy. Before destroying his image of golden boy in 2009, he was considered “socially awkward” for his close friends when he would often hide his awkwardness around women.

According to the ESPN article, Woods went to Jordan and Derek Jeter at a New York nightclub at a party in 1999 and asked how to talk to the women.

With a confused look, Jordan and Jeter would have looked at each other before saying, “Go tell them you’re Tiger Woods.”

Following the revelation of the article and Jordan’s rare franchise, sources close to the couple reportedly claimed that Woods had not called the basketball icon since. But even then, friendship was never as close as it had been before 2009.

However, as the pair no longer talk much, Jordan still clearly respects Woods and was highly regarded by his former friend after arguably making the biggest comeback in sport history, winning the Masters in 2019.

Speaking to The Athletic last year, Jordan said, “I never thought he would come back physically. He didn’t think he would come back physically. But he did. No one expected him to return as he is now.

“He was probably the only person who thought he could come back. For me, this is a major achievement. For me it’s amazing. Mentally, you always think you can. But you cannot answer what your body is facing.

Jordan was at the National Golf to support Woods while the United States was convincingly beaten by Europe

Jordan was at the National Golf to support Woods while the United States was convincingly beaten by Europe

Jordan then added, “You rely so much on mental toughness. Until you know what you can do, you will exercise your will when you think you need to do it. But the greatest task will always be mental. You go against guys who are more physically gifted.

“But your advantage is mental. You have so many things you can tap into, and the other guys don’t have the same thing. They have no experience. You think of (Francesco) Molinari hitting him in the water on the 12th, (Tony) Finau hitting him in the water, Brooks (Koepka) hitting him in the water on the 12th. Mentally, (Woods) had to support him. From then on, he was the one who tried to understand.

So, although the pair is not in the best condition, it seems that they are friendly with each other and Jordan was spotted recently at events in which Woods participated – notably the 2018 Ryder Cup at National in France .

Woods was just one of many who watched Jordan’s latest dance on Netflix – a 10-part documentary series about Jordan and the Chicago Bulls of the 1990s.

Few people in the world can relate to the competitive nature of Jordan, but Woods certainly can, which is highlighted in an interview with Golf Digest.

“He is more, I think, outwardly competitive than me. But sometimes I tend to be a little competitive, “admitted Woods.

Things may not be the same between the two after a tumultuous period lately, but they clearly have a lot of respect for each other.

And it will always be the case for the two giants of the sport.


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