Tiger Woods is often seen at NBA games and is an avid sports fan. So it was no surprise he praised the performance of LeBron James as the Akron native won his first championship last week with the Miami Heat.
"What he did in The Finals is just absolutely amazing," Woods said at a pre-tournament press conference for the event he hosts, the AT&T National, at Congressional Country Club. "Actually the whole year. People forget he was MVP of the year. He had an unbelievable playoffs. He showed every single facet of his game. Things he needed to work on versus last year -- they didn't show up, but they were dominant.
"It's pretty neat to see somebody who's that talented work on his game and then display it under the most extreme conditions. We saw it with M.J. (Michael Jordan); he couldn't jump over everybody with the Pistons and eventually learned a different shot, and he mastered going off his right hand, left shoulder. It didn't matter, he could fade away either shoulder. To me it's just amazing to watch player development like that."
Woods said James jumping from St. Vincent-St. Mary to the pros was much more difficult than his transition from Stanford.
"What he did, going into the NBA at age 18 is very different," Woods said. "I went to college for two years and had that type of environment to grow and learn. He went straight into the NBA and was a professional, and that's a big change. That's a big jump from playing high school ball to professionals, and we find the same thing out here. Guys who go from amateur golf and straight into the big leagues, it's tough.
"He did a fantastic job. He grew. We saw him physically grow, but also mature into his game over the years, and it's fun to just sit back and watch. I think that we should all look at what he's done and just sit back and watch one of the greatest players to ever play."
Woods may be most able to identify with the scrutiny and pressure James has been under, especially after James left Cleveland two summers ago.
"This is a different media time," Woods said. "There's a 24-hours news cycle. That wasn't always the case. The guys who grew up in it certainly have had more attention, more scrutiny."