Michael Phelps had the best view of anyone for Tiger Woods’ latest iconic moment on the 16th hole at Augusta National. But another sports GOAT was watching Woods’ 2019 Masters victory just as closely on TV.
In an interview with The Athletic’s David Aldridge, Michael Jordan said he was at a Masters party rooting on his longtime friend with former World No. 1 golfer Luke Donald. And he couldn’t have sounded more impressed by Woods overcoming numerous physical and mental obstacles to win his first major title in 11 years.
“I took two years off to play baseball, but nothing like that,” Jordan told Aldridge of his brief time in pro baseball before un-retiring from basketball to lead the Chicago Bulls to three more titles from 1996-1998. “I’m pretty sure he questioned himself, whether he could get it back, and he had to put a lot of work in. But he took it head-on. He had to change his game; he had to change his perspective a little bit. To me, it was the greatest comeback I’ve ever seen.”
Jordan, like most people including Woods himself, had doubted that Woods would ever return to this level.
“The thing is, I love him so much that I can’t tell him, ‘You’re not gonna be great again,’” he famously told ESPN the Magazine’s Wright Thompson in 2016. The six-time NBA champ and current majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets reiterated those feelings this week.
“I never thought he’d get back physically,” Jordan told The Athletic. “He didn’t think he’d get back physically. But he did it. No one expected him to be back the way he is now. He’s probably the only person who believed he could get back. To me, that’s a major accomplishment. To me, it’s unbelievable. Mentally, you always think you can. But you can’t answer to what your body has to deal with.”
Jordan also said he called Tiger to congratulate him on his fifth green jacket.
“He’s actually surprised me, and I’m happily surprised,” Jordan said.