For Tiger Woods, Kobe Bryant Was Better Than Anybody in NBA History: A Lookback at the Golfer’s & Mamba’s Relationship

Published 02/09/2024, 9:45 AM EST

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Tiger Woods is one of the best players to touch the game of golf. Arguably, the same can be said for Kobe Bryant in basketball. But the legendary NBA player left the mortal world four years ago, leaving heartbroken fans with only memories. Surprisingly, some of his fondest memories also contain the American golfer.

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Their friendship was something many fans knew about. But only the two best players in their game truly understood what was going on in each other’s minds. With Woods recently honoring Bryant, let’s look back at the shared legacy of the two people who have taken their game to new heights.

Tiger Woods used to connect with Kobe Bryant on a deeper mental level

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A post made by the TGR Live Event recently shook the world. The post shows the golfer walking towards a special flag. This image contained a heartfelt reference to Kobe Bryant with the flag, his jersey number 8, and his signature colors. The post captioned “For Kobe 💛💜 2.8.24” captured the attention of many golf and basketball fans.

 

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But what makes it more special is the shared history between him and Woods. The American golfer grew up supporting the LA Lakers, and Bryant praised Woods for his world-class game. Furthermore, the two of them followed almost the same career trajectory. The NBA star was drafted in 1996, the same year Woods turned pro. The two of them also reached the peak of their games by the onset of the new millennium.

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In 2000, Woods completed his dominant trifecta win at the U.S. Open, Open Championship, and PGA Championship. Following the same trajectory, Bryant won the NBA Finals in 2000, going on to win three consecutive titles. The two of them bonded over their love of their games, something that takes peak athleticism to achieve.

Tiger Woods fondly remembered this bond in a press conference at Torrey Pines, the day after Bryant’s untimely death. “We really connected on the mental side of it—the prep, how much it takes to be prepared,” said the 15x major winner. Woods went on to share how they both had this knack for small details that elevated their game above that of other players.

Woods’s greatest memory of Bryant

Many would consider the best memory the American golfer has of Bryant to be from one of his wins. But that is not the case! Instead, the most cherished memory of the NBA star that Woods has is of his injury and how he overcame it.

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Tiger Woods once recounted, “One of the more impressive things that I’ve ever witnessed is when he ruptured his Achilles [in 2013], and he went to the foul line and made his shots. Ultimate toughness, ultimate competitor, and one of the most shocking and tragic days that I’ve ever been a part of.”

This level of dedication to one’s sport is something Woods could only observe. Furthermore, he also respected the ‘Mamba mentality’ of the NBA star. Putting in hours at the gym and then more at the court was something that raised Bryant above other players.

This respect was mutual, as the NBA star also cheered Woods on. When Woods secured a win at the Augusta National GC in 2019, Bryant was one of the first to congratulate him. In a post made on X, Bryant wrote, “TIGER #masters2019.”

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Unfortunately, the NBA star died in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California. During that time, Woods was competing in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines GC. He was told about the NBA star’s demise, which shocked him to a deeper level. More than losing a peer, Woods lost an equal who truly understood what it feels to give it their all to the game.

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Both their careers followed a similar path, and Woods could just mutter, “We had our 20-year run together. It’s shocking.” The death of Kobe Bryant was a heavy blow to Tiger Woods. Right now he is doing the best he can to honor the legacy of his counterpart. It was visible in the post made by the TGR Live Event recently.

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Written by:

Ajitesh Rawat

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