Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods almost had the same story arc: both underwent intense scrutiny from being superstars in their sports and became role models for the younger generation of the sports they are in. However, a lawyer once advised Tiger to stay away from Mike. Good thing the golfer didn’t heed the advice.
“He’s going to try to use you”
In 1996, John Merchant, Tiger Woods’ lawyer, advised his client to stay away from Michael Jordan and Greg Norman, a professional golf player. For Merchant, Norman was on the decline while Tiger was emerging, so there’s nothing to benefit from their connection. In the case of MJ, the lawyer thought he was just going to use the young Woods.
“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.”
Woods was on the verge of breaking out and dominating the golf scene at that time. Merchant, for his part, tried to protect his friend from being used by other personalities. But Mike’s impact on young Tiger couldn’t be denied. He idolized the 6-time NBA champion growing up, and they have more similarities than initially thought.
Michael Jordan's impact on Tiger Woods
Michael Jordan revealed why Woods never played basketball with him despite joining Tiger on the golf course several times. Fortunately, the Cypress, California native didn’t heed his lawyer’s advice as MJ became a role model for him.
Mike wanted the young Woods to embrace the fame and popularity because he couldn’t shut it down even if he wanted to. Jordan had been there before, and he didn’t want his friend to undergo the same thing.
“You can’t just go on the golf course and when you’re done go back and lock yourself in your hotel room. I’ve been there; it’s miserable.” advised Jordan.
How MJ handled success became an inspiration to Woods. As he ascended the top of the golf scene, Tiger embraced the fame that came with it. Mike didn't care about what people thought of him. He knew he had the media at his mercy. MJ didn’t need to be friends with anyone and wouldn’t invite opposing players to dinners or get-togethers after games. So Woods followed that blueprint.
There aren’t many legends of the game that have almost similar paths to superstardom, but Woods and Jordan will be forever intertwined for similarities in approach to the game and life.