“This is the most ridiculous argument I have ever heard,” Wilbon said to an older colleague, in their debate about who will be the GOAT.
Former “The Washington Post” columnists, 71-year-old Tony Kornheiser of New York and ten years younger colleague Michael Wilbon of Chicago have been running “Pardon The Interruption” on ESPN’s leading sports network since 2001 and have a fairly stable rating.
The two have a list of current sports topics and limited time to say what they have, with the NFL and NBA in focus, though the “task” of football, baseball, tennis…
In the week after the Australian Open, which saw Novak Djokovic winning his eighth straight win over Roger Federer in the semifinals and Dominic Thiem in the final, Tony and Willie decided on the most popular, but also the most challenging, debate in men’s tennis – who is or who will be the biggest player of all time – The Goat.
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There is little to say that they got engaged in a bizarre live interview in front of a million audience.
Aware of the extent of Djokovic’s dominance over the past nine years, Wilbon asked a fan of the Federer on the other side of the table if the Serb had done enough to, if nothing else, reconsider the claim that Federer was, without doubt, the greatest player in history.
Kornheiser’s response was … unpleasant.
“No, he didn’t do enough to get me to do that. He has 17 ‘major’ … Federer is 20, Nadal is 19,” he began and then introduced a whole new category to “argue” claims he didn’t want to deviate from.
“You played tennis, no one knows better than you that the most important ‘major’ tournaments are Wimbledon and the US Open. Roland Garros is third and Australian Open fourth in importance. Djokovic has won eight Australian Open and has only eight Wimbledon titles and The US Open, “he murmured as his colleague watched him mute.
“Federer is 13 at Wimbledon and the US Open,” “pointed out” the American, for whom ESPN’s longtime executive director John Walsh once said he was, to quote, “Kornheiser the most talented person in sports journalism history.”
Kornheiser didn’t stop there…
“So let’s get this over with. Djokovic is just pumping his score by defeating ‘antiquities’ like Nadal and Federer because younger players don’t exist. So the answer is no, it didn’t make me think again.”
After a short break, the man who had heard everything from his older colleague in almost two decades of broadcasting the show was only able to say…
“This is the most ridiculous argument I’ve ever heard,” Wilbon retorted.
“That’s a horrible argument … you’re saying all this just because of Federer’s Wimbledon titles ?!”
“Wimbledon is in charge”!
“I thought the US Open was the main one … It seemed to me,” Wilbon replied, and then tried to put the bizarre debate into as many decent frames.
“Each of them has a dominant tournament, as does Nadal at Roland Garros. If Djokovic goes to the 22 or 23 grand slam and picks up more than these two, I think you’ll have to think again.”
The tandem then, fortunately for the viewers, moved on to the next topic.
And what do you think, who will be the GOAT?