Los Angeles—Tiger Woods reflected on LeBron James’s NBA career scoring record on Tuesday, marvelling at the Lakers great’s continued dominance even as he tries to prolong his own superstar career.
“That record, we thought it would never be surpassed,” Woods said of James’s move past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the top of the NBA’s all-time scoring list—a spot Abdul-Jabbar had held for 39 years.
“What LeBron is doing, also the amount of minutes he’s playing, no one’s ever done that before at that age. To be able to play all five positions, that’s never been done before at this level for this long.”
Asked about a possible equivalent in the golf world Woods said perhaps the record 82 US PGA Tour titles he shares with Sam Snead.
At 47, with 15 major championships on his resume and after litany of injuries that have left their marks on him, he’s not giving up on adding to that tally—even if he knows his time is growing shorter.
Of course, he’s been there before. Woods said he always felt he could power through the ruptured anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in 2007, which required surgery in 2008.
He soldiered on through a torn Achilles tendon and a neck injury and a knee sprain in 2011.
He said the first time he really wondered if he’d make it back was after spinal fusion surgery in 2017 to address years of nagging back trouble.
Now he’s hobbled by the lower leg injuries suffered in a February 2021 car crash, playing a drastically reduced schedule.
“I had some knee surgeries early on in my career but nothing like what I experienced with my back,” Woods said. “When my back went, man, those were tough surgeries and tough rehabs.
“That’s when I started realizing the mortality of this game and just sports in general … there comes a point in time where a couple of my friends in the NFL, when you become afraid to get hit, you take that one little flinch of I don’t want to get hit.
“Well, when I had my back I didn’t want to hit certain shots because I may end up on the ground, so that was tough.”
Woods noted that at least he doesn’t have the complication his NFL counterparts face in playing a contact sport.
He marvels at the career of seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, who retired for good after coming back for one last NFL campaign last year. AFP
– ‘I play to win’ –
And he recalled quarterback John Elway’s emotional farewell to the NFL after winning two Super Bowls with the Denver Broncos in the 1990s.
“He could just not physically do it anymore,” Woods said.
He doesn’t think he’s there yet.
“I don’t have 300-pound guys falling on top of me,” he said. “We have the ability to pick and choose and play a little bit longer.
“We’ve seen my hero, Arnold Palmer, hell, he played in 50 straight Masters, 50 straight!”
Woods said emphatically he won’t get to those numbers, but he’ll keep competing for as long as his body lets him, and as long as he thinks he can challenge for a win.
“If I’m playing, I play to win,” he said.
“There will come a point in time when my body will not allow me to do that anymore, and it’s probably sooner rather than later, but wrapping my ahead around that transition and being the ambassador role and just trying to be out here with the guys, no, that’s not in my DNA.”