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Patrick Hruby

Atlantic Sports Roundtable: who needs a championship more, LeBron James or Tiger Woods?

A wise person -- probably Elizabeth Taylor; possibly John Madden and/or Charlie Sheen -- once noted that winning is the best deodorant. In this week's Atlantic Sports Roundtable, we discuss Tiger Woods, LeBron James and which image-challenged star athlete needs a championship more:

Hampton Stevens: ... a James championship would be the bigger public redemption. Here's why. First, duh, because he hasn't got one yet. Secondly, because Tiger doesn't need public approval like James does. Woods doesn't play for the pleasure of the crowd. Tiger's relationship with the rest of the world—press and public—has always been guarded and distant. He accepts our praise. He tolerates our imperfections. Usually. But Woods isn't looking for the rest of the world to tell him he's the best ever like LeBron is. Tiger's trying to prove it to himself ... anyway, Tiger's perceived failures were personal. His public image changed because of what happened off the course, and he can't change that image back by what he does on it, ever, no matter how many trophies he wins ...

Jake Simpson: ... a Tiger win at the U.S. Open would mean more for sports than a LeBron NBA title. King James is the best player of his generation, but no one in their right mind puts him in the same class as Jordan, Russell, Bird, Magic et al. If you were ranking the 10 greatest basketball players of all time, LeBron would not make the list. Don't take my word for it—just ask Jason Siegel ... meanwhile, Tiger is attempting to scale the Everest of his sport (Nicklaus' 18 majors) and supplant the Golden Bear as golf's GOAT. Five years ago, Tiger's ascension to the top of golf history was a foregone conclusion. Now he's seeking just one major—any major—to kick-start his run again ...

Patrick Hruby: ... Woods has more to (re)gain. Here's why: for golf fans, it was never about Woods the devoted husband, generous tipper, or competent driveway navigator. It was always about winning, catching Nicklaus, hitting a ball better than anyone else on the planet. Woods's only real crime against his constituency is that he stopped kicking ass and started looking distressingly mortal ... but James? He's stuck. Boxed in. Can't win for losing; can't win for winning. His sports sin was worse—in staging "The Decision," he pulled back the curtain and basically told sports fans the awful truth, the one thing they never, ever want to hear: your heroes don't need you ...

Read the full article at the Atlantic online