Michael Jordan believes that just the way Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods are incomparable, GOAT debates in sports are meaningless.
In an era where 280 characters are supposed to be able to encapsulate every idea worth getting public attention, calling someone the greatest to ever do something has become an easy way of generating buzz and engagement.
As a result, every news outlet is having to resort to the same tactics. Many of them knowingly keep running these same storylines across the length of their 24-hour news cycles.
ESPN itself has now become something of a contemporary GOAT watch event for every sport it broadcasts. LeBron James is being compared to Michael Jordan, Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout will be propped up against the Babe Ruths of yore.
Tom Brady, meanwhile, has gotten every news outlet buzzing with the constant GOAT-related storylines they run.
The one athlete who would probably be regarded as the GOAT of GOATs for a good, long time, however, is tired of all these conversations.
“Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods never played with the same equipment”: Michael Jordan
One of the best interviews ever done by Michael Jordan was with Cigar Aficionado. Since retirement, the Bulls legend has consciously retracted himself from the public eye, giving interviews very sparingly.
However, in an environment where he could unwind with a glass of whiskey and a custom hand-made cigar, you can always bank on Jordan to speak his mind freely and eloquently. And his thoughts on GOAT debates, in general, were quite well-encapsulated here:
“I beg to differ, and I’ll give a different analogy to it. Because, first of all, you’re never gonna say who’s the greatest of all time. For me, that’s more for PR, more for selling stories and getting hype.”
“Jack (Nicklaus) and Tiger (Woods) never played against each other. They never played in the same tournament, they never played with the same equipment, they never played with the same length of golf course.”
“I never played against Wilt Chamberlain, I never played against Jerry West. To now say that one’s greater than the other is being a little bit unfair, you know. I think when you see the similarities and you understand it.”
“One way of looking at it is how much impact did each player have? Change or evolve the game – Jack during his time, or Tiger during his time? Now obviously, Jack won more, but Tiger evolved it where he crossed a lot of boundaries.”