Tiger Woods: What He Should Learn from Kobe Bryant

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Tiger Woods: What He Should Learn from Kobe Bryant
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Tiger Woods has 14 career major championships under his belt, but hasn't won a major since 2008.

In 2009, Tiger’s infidelities caught up with him, causing a big fallout in his personal and professional life. He took a lot of time off, citing a “private manner” as his reason for dropping out of tournaments. When he returned he not only gradually lost his No. 1 ranking, but he became a shadow of his former self.

You could say at one point, the PGA Tour was Tiger’s tour.

He changed the culture of golf, filled the stands with a wide array of fans, and brought different cultures into the game.

After finally losing his family to divorce, and having people in his closest circle write books about him, Tiger Woods made his awaited return to the PGA Tour. Yet, for some reason, his name doesn’t appear at the top spot of the leader board every week like it used to.

One star athlete that can relate to what Tiger is going through is NBA superstar Kobe Bryant.

Dominating his own sport, Kobe Bryant had won three NBA championships at the time he faced allegations for a sexual assault. He lost major endorsements, and sales of his jersey plummeted.

Worst of all, the stigma of “allegedly” sexually assaulting a 19-year old woman loomed over his head. You can easily argue the trouble Kobe faced was a lot worse than the trouble Tiger faced.

It wasn’t just personal problems Kobe Bryant had to deal with, but also the penalty the law looked to hand him had he been convicted of the charges brought against him.

While most famous public figures would have taken time off as Tiger did, Kobe didn’t. When he was supposed to be in court, he showed up. When he was supposed to be on the court, he showed up.

Now I am not advocating Tiger should have abandoned his family, though it’s easy to argue with his selfish actions he had.

Kobe, however, is definitely the exception when it comes to this.

Harry How/Getty Images

The page Tiger needs to take out Kobe’s book is how to get back to form. Not how to return to the game, but how to rise above and dominate the game like he had once before.

After the allegations were dropped and the civil suit settled out of court, Kobe was unchanged. Some might say he was almost better, definitely wiser, and humbly grateful for the opportunity to be able to focus 100 percent on the game he loved.

The media saw a new side of Kobe—a reserved, short-answer Kobe.

He didn’t lash out at members of the media when they asked questions that might have been controversial. Most importantly, if SportsCenter was covering Kobe, he was on basketball court, and not in front of a microphone.

Tiger Woods seems to be the exact opposite; he wears his heart in his sleeve.

This week, he nearly threw a tantrum when Alex Miceli asked if, at 28, he had really considered leaving golf to be a Navy SEAL—a claim made by Hank Haney in his book about Tiger.

The exchange between the two is below:

Woods: “I’ve already talked about everything—in the book. Yes, I’ve already commented on everything, Alex.”

Miceli: “Then I must have missed you answering that question.” 

Woods: “Well, I’ve already commented on the book. Is that in the book? Is it in the book?” 

Miceli: “I don’t know; I haven’t seen the book.”
 
Woods (smiling): “You're a beauty, you know that?”

Miceli: “That's a fair question, right? You guys are suggesting that there’s something wrong with the excerpts in the book. I’m just trying to find out if that’s true or not. 

Woods: “I don't know. Have a good day.” 

SportsCenter ran this clip today more than they ran footage of him playing in the Honda Classic.

Not only did Kobe Bryant get his head back in the game, he dominated the game once again. And in the years that followed, 2004-2008, Kobe won an MVP and made two finals appearances, eventually winning back-to-back championships in 2009 and 2010.

Kobe Bryant’s name is often spoken in the same sentence with some of the greatest to ever play basketball— Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson to name a few.

As of late, Tiger's name can be most notably compared to NASCAR's Danica Patrick—all headline, none of the results.

Tiger’s reasons for not being dominant cannot just be physical. He has proven to the world he wasn’t as mentally strong as everyone gave him credit for.

In sports, the truly special athletes can win at the highest level and make adjustments to keep winning. While no one is denying how talented Tiger Woods was in his prime, if he ever wants to be considered the greatest in golf again, its what he does after all this adversity that will matter most.

Even though 14 major championships is an incredible feat, its winning four more to tie Jack Nicklaus' record that will matter, and five more that will make him a legend.

Kobe Bryant is the best closer in his game, while Tiger Woods is now is just another tour cardholder.

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