Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tiger In the Wild

Tiger Woods with Arnold Palmer after his victory at Bay Hill.

I’ve been lucky enough to witness some really great sporting events during my lifetime. Epic comebacks in the NFL and NBA, overtime winning goals in the NHL playoffs, walkoff homeruns, world record Olympic performances, brutal boxing upsets and so many more. Some of the first ones that I always think about include Jordan’s game six jumper in Utah during the 1998 NBA Finals. Adam Vinatieri’s game winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI. The Boston Red Sox comeback versus the New York Yankees in the 2004 ALCS. Derek Fisher’s game winner against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2004 NBA playoffs. These are all big moments, but there’s always one year that comes to mind first when I think about sports.

Let us journey back to 2008, when I was in the U.S.Army and at CSC (Convoy Support Center) Scania in southern Iraq. I’ll never forget that year in sports because I wasn’t in America to experience it. The Lakers were back in the NBA Finals for first time since Shaq had left. (I won’t talk about how they lost to the Celtics.) Memphis lost to Kansas in overtime during the NCAA Men’s Basketball national championship game. The New York Giants ended New England’s bid at perfection in the Super Bowl. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal battled at Wimbledon in what many experts call the greatest tennis match of all-time. I saw all of these amazing things on a tiny TV, in a dusty little office located in one of the most dangerous places on the planet.

All of those don’t even compare to the best sporting event I saw that year and probably ever. There was one event that had my fellow soldiers and I at the edge of our seats and cheering our heads off. One athlete from that amazing year had us in complete awe and that athlete was Eldrick “Tiger” Woods.

It was the 2008 U.S. Open played at Torrey Pines. On one leg, Woods gutted his way to an amazing
Woods celebrates after his tying putt on
the 18th hole during the 2008 U.S. Open.
victory over Rocco Mediate. I’ve never seen a ballsier performance from a professional athlete. Ever. Like “ever” ever. He won the toughest golf tournament in the world with a torn ACL, while playing an extra day of playoff golf on Monday no less.

It’s hard to believe, but that was the last time Tiger Woods won a major. It’s almost been five years since that amazing victory and it’s seems even longer than that. I’m not going to talk about the dumpster fire Woods turned his life into shortly after that because it’s pointless. We all know what happened. When an insanely wealthy, hyper competitive Black athlete under the age of seventy cheats on his wife I don't find it shocking in the least bit. (I don’t think he had a sex addiction either. It was just a PR move to find a reasonable "excuse" for his infidelity other than him being a lying no-good dog like every other man that has cheated on his wife and gotten caught. I've always said a man is only as faithful as his bank account "allows" him to be. Tiger Woods’ bank account could allow him to have sex with straight men. If I had been a professional athlete, it’d go one of two ways. One, the Derek Jeter way. No kids, no wife, just single pimping for 20 plus years. Or the Travis Henry way. All I'll say is click this link and you’re welcome.) During that time, the “dark years”, golf just wasn’t as interesting. Yeah, we’ve had some great tournaments, great wins, great stories and Rory McIlroy made a little run, but there’s been nothing close to Tiger.

Woods getting the Green Jacket for first time in 1997.
I’m just going to come out and say it. Golf is just better when the Black guy’s good. I’m sorry but it’s true. We all like seeing greatness and Tiger Woods is as great as any athlete in the history of sports. I’m not saying he’s all the way back, but he just “looks” different and it “feels” like he’s back. So far in 2013, Tiger has three wins, he’s the number one ranked golfer in the world for the first time since October of 2010, he’s putting better than he has in years and he’s going into the Masters with a ton of momentum. In fact, most experts have him taking the green jacket. Not only do I hope Tiger wins the Masters, I hope he wins it 1997 style. Dominant, clear and unchallenged. I hope Tiger sends a loud message to the world, showing all of the doubters that he’s back and Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors isn’t as safe as they all thought it was.

I don’t love golf. I don’t love NASCAR. I don’t love women’s basketball. I don’t love track and field. But you know what I do love? I L.O.V.E, love watching greatness! We, normal humans that is, love to see when someone can shine on a “god-like” level in a sporting event. We love to see when athletes/teams achieve feats above and beyond anyone before them. That’s why I loved watching NASCAR when Jimmie Johnson was winning five championships in a row. It's why I marveled at the UConn’s Women’s Basketball team that won 90 games in a row. Why I loved watching Usain Bolt at the 2012 Olympic Games and why he was the only non-American athlete I rooted for. (I'm sorry, but I may as well have been Bob Marley that night because I was rooting that hard to see him win. Hell, if North Korea produced a super-human, once in a lifetime athlete, they could bomb us and I’d STILL root for that athlete like I was Kim Jong Un.) It's why I as a diehard Lakers fan wanted to see the Miami Heat win 34 games in a row. I love seeing things that I’ll never forget. Things that I’ll be proud to tell my son I got to see. Things that he’ll be jealous I saw. Things that will cause my friends and I to light up with excitement and youth, like we’re being transported back in time because of that particular memory.

Tiger Woods, as far as sports are concerned, has provided the best moment so far. I can remember the smell of the office, the looks on people’s faces. I can even remember the feel of the “high-fives” we all shared during his tournament-tying putt. So here’s to you Tiger Woods and the hope that you give me another timeless memory.

Time for your take. What do you think of the blog? Was I right? Was I wrong? What's your favorite sports memory? Do you think Tiger Woods is back? Leave me a comment below and don't forget to share the blog, subscribe to the blog and follow me on twitter @ParisLay. Thanks for stopping by and as always... Enjoy the View!

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