Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Ahem: Well, Allow Me to Retort - MJ vs. Tiger Part Deux

In the interest of full disclosure I will tell you, the reader that I am a Bulls fan and have been for a very very long time. Those of you who read this column on a regular or semi-regular basis most likely would have picked that up by now. Also in the interest of full disclosure 4Real is a Cavs fan and more importantly anti-Jordan. It probably has something to do with

First of all, who tries to block a shot backwards? That crazy Craig Ehlo. I have no bitterness towards the Cavs, but that probably has to do with the fact that at the end of that play a.k.a. “The Shot” My guy is jumping up and down, doing the fist pump to end all fist pumps while his guy is crumpled in a pile on the ground. But anyways, that was in the interest of full disclosure, I wasn’t rubbing anything in.

If you haven’t figured out yet, or didn’t read it, this is a response to 4Real’s post yesterday regarding Tiger vs. MJ. Well 4Real titled it “The Great Sports Debate”, so I figure, let’s debate.
It would be petty to point out that 4Real wrote “Well complicate things” and I’ll just have to assume that he meant “We’ll complicate things”. That would be petty, to make this personal and attack his many, many spelling and grammatical errors. And I, being a stand-up guy (for those of you wondering, by stand-up I don’t mean comedian, I mean when I’m standing up I’m about 6 inches taller than 4Real) would never make things personal like that. But back to the debate.

He is right Tiger is approaching every record set in the history of the game. And is without a doubt in my mind the greatest golfer of the game today. But that’s the thing. That’s the problem with comparing athletes in the same sport to different eras. There weren’t golfers out there in the past. It wasn’t as widely played of a game. How do we know that Tiger Woods isn’t really the next Jake Sampson who had amazing talent but never picked up the sticks because he couldn’t afford to play the game. (Ed. Note Jake Sampson is made up, I think, he is not some great golfer that never played). The same can be said for basketball. There are different eras. The pre-black players, the pre-24 second shot clock, the pre-3 point line. As the rules change so too does the game. If it really isn’t possible to compare athletes in the same sport, how can we really cross the boundary into different sports. I say this as a preface. I understand the 4Real himself pointed out just how difficult it is to compare different athletes in different sports. Of course he went and did it anyway.

Rookie Campaigns:
4Real points out that both were Rookies of the Year in their respective sports. This is true, but winning Rookie of the Year is tougher in the NBA because there are more people to go up against (remember not everyone gets a tour card) for the award. So using this as a comparison really isn’t that equal, though Tiger winning it in a short season is impressive, that shows just how little competition there is for the award. There wasn’t any other rookies in Golf that put together several top-25 finishes. What Tiger did was remarkable yes, but using the award as a comparison is a stretch.

“All Team Honors”:
Again another off-comparison. The awards are voted on not based merely on accomplishments. Also the distinction that First team selections are the equivalent of a Top 5 in the Money list is off since Jordan was a guard and there were only 2 guards voted to each team. Thus a First team selection was not a Top 5 finish but a Top 2 finish, Second team a Top 4 and so on. There is also the fact that different tournaments have different purses (winnings). A Player could land in the Top 5 in money lists by winning on average 2 events. In 2002 Ernie Els won 2 events and was 5th in the money list. So being the best on the course only twice during a 49 tournament span will put you in the Top 5 money leaders. K.J. Choi was 5th on the Money List last year and he only won 2 events, and neither was a Major.

4Real broke it down correctly, “Jordan took home 6 championships in the form of two 3petes. Yes, he was the Finals MVP in every series, but since we comparing this to an individual sport that would make Tiger the MVP of every championship he won ( No Caddy MVP controversies in the PGA).” The fact is you are comparing it to an individual sport. Also His Airness could only attempt to win 1 championship per season. Tiger has won 13 Majors, but he gets 4 chances per year to win a major. Once again this is a comparison between individual player and team sports. Jordan took his team to 6 championships. The two years he wasn’t there, the exact same players and coaches combined for 0 Championships in those 2 years. When he was back they strung together 3 more. But good Old MJ can’t do it alone, no one can. Let’s take the best players in the NBA Nash has won 2 MVPs and no Championships, Dirk 1 and 0, and we all know LeBron is probably, and in my opinion is definitely, the best player in the game right now but he struggled against the Spurs in the Championship last year without the proper supporting cast. The same thing held true for Dirk last year as the Mavs couldn’t get past the Warriors, and Nash in the two years before struggling with the Spurs. Tiger has won an astounding 13 Major Championships but for him it’s one against the field. He’s won 27% of the Major Championships since entering the game (based on 4Real’s number of 13 total out of 12 years (times 4 per year). Jordan’s teams won 6 Championships in his 19 seasons (including the Washington years and his third of a year year back with the Bulls in 1995 prior to the 2nd threepeat) That’s 31.6% of the time. Which is higher in a tougher to win team sport.

MVP Seasons:
Jordan 5 Tiger 9. Once again if you are on a terrible team as Jordan was in the early and late years (remember he was the 3rd pick, meaning that the year before the Bulls weren’t that good, and they didn’t turn it around right away) you aren’t going to win the MVP, so the MVP award can be narrowed down to the fact that it’s a team sport as well as more people eligible for the award. Not to take anything away from Tiger but in an individual sport it’s easier to get the award because it's singly on you.

Bottom Line:
Tiger is good, Tiger is really good and is probably the best golfer of all-time. The reason it’s probably and not definitely is based on loads of what-ifs and the fact that his career is still going. If I had a gun to my head I would say he was the best ever without thinking twice. But Jordan was more Dominant. I base this on the one and only viable comparison between the two. Heart, drive, and competitiveness. Tiger wins, a lot, and is the best on the Tour right now, hands down. But, and I can’t believe I’m gonna sound like Skip Bayless here, Woods has never won a major when trailing after 54 holes. If he’s losing on Sunday, he’s not walking away with the trophy. Jordan on the other hand had to be carried off the court battling 100+ degree temperatures in the flu game. He would not back down, and he willed his team to win after win. Taking the last shot. Jordan was clutch, he was the man who’s will, heart, drive, and competitiveness made him feared on the court. That’s what made him THE Most Dominant Athlete of All-Time. Hell the Heart and intensity can be found by comparing fist-pumps, which Jordan made famous.

Jordan is 3 feet off the ground, Tiger is saluting the crowd. Not too mention Tiger's winning combination of Red and Black look eerily remnant of someone else who made red and black a winning combination.

Make sure you take a second to vote in the poll to the right.

That's the way you do it! That's the way you debate!