Lawrence Taylor knows firsthand that his friend Michael Jordan isn’t any different on the golf course than he is on the basketball court.
“Of all the people I know, he’s probably the most competitive person I know,” Taylor told The Post. “He’ll bet on a daggone 50-foot putt and goddammit, if he bets on it, nine times out of 10 he’s gonna make it.”
Jordan is not averse to joking around on the links.
“Don’t get it confused,” Taylor said. “He is trying to win every bet. He might not care, but he is trying to win every bet. Everything that is out there. He’s trying to win at all times. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
The Giants drafted LT out of North Carolina in 1981. Jordan was getting ready to play his freshman year for Dean Smith. And that’s where a friendship began to blossom between The Greatest New York Giant and Greatest Defensive Player in NFL History and The Greatest NBA Player in History … with a basketball.
“My senior year when I went to the Giants, I came back to school to finish up that summer,” Taylor said. “And he was there at Carolina getting ready for the season, but we played a lot of basketball, we hung out a lot. I consider him a good friend.”
No one, of course, could have predicted what Jordan would become.
“I am not a critiquer of basketball. I played football,” Taylor said. “The guy was phenomenal. And sometimes you think he’s from another planet. The things he can do you don’t see every day. Every hundred million people that are born, there may be one like him, OK?”
Asked what he thinks made Michael Jordan Michael Jordan, Taylor said: “That’s a question that a lot of guys, a lot of good athletes, a lot of great athletes, they look at a Michael Jordan and they wonder, ‘What’s his edge? What did he have that other people don’t have?’
“And at the end of the day, you gotta say, ‘Everything.’ ”
In “The Last Dance” documentary, it was revealing how Jordan used any slight, real or imagined, to fuel him. Bill Parcells would from time to time rile Taylor up. For example, before a game with Tampa Bay, Parcells would reference Hugh Green, drafted seventh and five slots behind LT, with: “That’s the kind of linebacker I’d want on my team.”
Taylor now says that gameday was all the motivation he needed.
“At the end of the day, I’m trying to win,” Taylor said. “I don’t give a s–t what you said, you just gotta prove it that day. I don’t need to talk about him or try to hype him up.”
Jordan probably didn’t either.
“He is one of the best if not the best … he is the best that has ever played the game,” LT said. “And like I said, most of the time you’re thinking this guy can’t be from the planet Earth, he’s gotta be from somewhere else.”
Taylor’s opponents — especially quarterbacks — would likely compare LT’s mentality to Jordan’s.
“To a point. Everything is to a point,” Taylor said. “I think we respect the game that we played. We work hard at what we do. We want to be considered the best at what we do.
“But at no time do I put my accolades in football and compare them to the accolades that he has in basketball.”
LT and Jordan used to play golf at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter, Fla.
“We used to play at least once or twice a week,” LT said. “I haven’t played with him much lately. He’s doing his thing, I’m doing my thing.”
LT’s thing is the long ball.
“I drive the ball very, very well,” he said. “His short game is very good. And chipping, he is pretty good at that, and I guess that’s why he makes so many of them damn jump shots.”
Asked who the better golfer is, Taylor said: “I really don’t know now, I haven’t played with him in a while.”
So all bets would be off today. But they weren’t then.
“When it comes to the big money, I may have won more of the big money than he has,” Taylor said. “I wish I had a tally but we don’t have a tally. It’s not all about money. It’s all about my drive and his drive. I think as far as that goes, we’re pretty even there.”
They were two birds of a feather in their respective sports, Jordan flying high and LT flying past offensive linemen at the quarterback, or the unlucky ball carrier.
“We have a good relationship, and if I come to a golf course he wants me in his group,” Taylor said.
“And it’s hard to get into Michael Jordan’s group.”
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