“Don’t call it a comeback.” LL Cool J immortalized those words nearly 30 years ago. He did not want anyone to think that he had been gone and was now returning; no, he was always there. That is not the case in sports. There are clear falls and there are even clearer comebacks. There are many reasons for said falls, but we love to see people beat the odds and return to greatness. This month has been big for comeback stories.
The most recent comeback is Tiger Woods. This weekend, arguably the greatest golfer of all time put together a run in the Valspar Championship and finished second. This was the first time in a long time, as he has not won a tournament since 2013, nor has he won a major since 2008. On the 17th hole, he made a 44-foot putt that looked like vintage Tiger. Only he could hit that shot, it seemed. He had a shot to send the tournament to a playoff on the final hole but fell short. Still, this was huge for golf fans. The fallen prodigal son showed glimpses of a return. If it holds for the future, Tiger reaching the top again would be one of the more amazing comebacks in sports history.
Derrick Rose has been having comebacks and abandoning them since 2010. He returned from a torn ACL, a torn meniscus, another torn meniscus and just about every other injury imaginable. Some of his comebacks were definitely better than others. Now, though, he has one more chance to make the most legitimate comeback of his career. Rose recently signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves after looking lackluster on the Cavaliers and taking time to consider retirement. If one of the most promising basketball players of a generation (if you don’t believe me, check out his highlight reels) becomes a third-stringer for a sixth-place team, imagine the comeback story that could result if he ever again plays like he did in his MVP 2010–11 season. I do not expect that. Very few expect him to do anything special for the remainder of the season or even his career. Yet Rose spoke out recently, saying that he wants to prove us doubters wrong.
It is necessary to say that although these are the two most prominent comeback stories in sports right now, there are questions about the backgrounds of these two players. Whether their specific comebacks should be supported is up to each individual, but to ignore Tiger’s cheating and Rose’s alleged sexual assault would be irresponsible. I brought these two players to light since they are the most current cases.
Sports fans love comeback stories. Comebacks give us hope for ourselves. They show that even when the greatest get knocked down, they get back up. With that, it must be true that so can we. Frazier may have been beaten Ali in their first match, but that third time? Call it a comeback.