Why Tiger Woods was warned to stay away from Michael Jordan
As Tiger Woods gears up for his eagerly-anticipated return to The Masters, a new book offers fascinating insights into his professional and personal life.
The book in question is simply titled Tiger Woods. It's written by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian, a couple of esteemed biographers who know their way around a famous sports figure.
Coming in a smidge under 500 pages, it's a fastidiously assembled, exhaustively researched and scrupulously reported work. It also benefits from having arguably the greatest sportsman to ever grace the planet at its centre.
But Woods is not the only sports superstar or celebrity to make an appearance in the book. Rather unsurprisingly, there are several mentions of Michael Jordan, the basketball legend who has been Woods' good friend for many years.
However, Jordan does not come off so well in this particular text. In fact, according to Benedict and Keteyian, John Merchant, a lawyer who helped Woods' family when he was a young golfing prodigy coming through at Stanford University, told Woods to stay away from Jordan way back in 1996, when the golfer was on the cusp of turning the sport upside down.
“Michael can play basketball as well as anyone who’s ever played the game,” Merchant said as per Yahoo Sports. “There isn’t anything else that Michael is good at doing. Nothing! And he’s had too many years of being out there in public. So he’s going to try to use you.”
These words were deeply troubling for Woods, who had idolised Jordan when he was at school. Jordan, 13 years his senior, was busy establishing himself as the greatest basketballer of all time when Woods was cracking the books and working day and night at his short game.
So, when they struck up a bond, not just as two of the most famous men on the planet but as friends who understood what it was like to be catapulted into the daunting world of megastardom, it was a big deal for Tiger.
But, from what the book tells us, Jordan was a bad influence on the golfer. Jordan is largely depicted as an obnoxious celebrity, an "aloof, arrogant star who embraced the word entitled with a capital E."
He was also a reason why Woods was a bit of a cheapskate.
“Everybody protected Michael back then because he was the best ever,” a Las Vegas-based source is quoted as saying.
“Nobody ever talked about [the bad habits of] Michael. Nobody ever told on Michael. Everybody was scared of Michael. And Tiger learned from him. PGA Tour representatives were often quietly leaving $100 tips on Tiger’s behalf with locker room attendants at Tour stops to keep his parsimonious ways out of the press."
Tiger Woods hit shelves this week and has already been denounced by the golfer's representatives.
“This book is just a re-hash from older books and articles and it’s hard to tell if there’s anything original at all,” Woods’ manager Mark Steinberg said in a statement released on Wednesday night. “The authors claim ‘we seldom quoted anonymous sources’ yet they relied on them at least 65 times.”