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Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant celebrates their win against the Houston Rockets during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California October 26, 2010. (LUCY NICHOLSON)
Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant celebrates their win against the Houston Rockets during the second half of their NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, California October 26, 2010. (LUCY NICHOLSON)

Tiger's fall

Tiger, check out Kobe Add to ...

It is American Thanksgiving, which means it's the anniversary, very nearly, of one of the biggest sports stories of our time: the crashing fall from grace of Tiger Woods.

At The Clubhouse, our golf blog, editor John Marchesan has compiled a collection of Tiger items that is worth perusing.

My own favourite, of course, is that Tiger's gone six days and counting without a tweet since deciding to tryout Twitter; so much for connecting with his fans. Most people use Twitter as a way to connect with other people. Woods has 250,000 followers, but follows only 11 accounts, five of them some version of him -- his foundation, his video game self etc. The rest are his favourite sports team's official accounts.

With the anniversary coming there will be a lot of casting back as it relates to Woods, but what about next year or the years after that?

This story by Doug Ferguson of the Associated Press describes what his agent, Mark Steinberg, hopes the stories to come will be; asked what his client's appeal in the near future he said: "Arguably the greatest golfer that's every played."Exposure. Rehabilitation. Changed man. Redemption."

There is no doubt Woods is capable of winning back the public's hearts and minds, if not completely regain the status he enjoyed before. Michael Vick proves that. Kobe Bryant especially so.

Winning will be a big factor, obviously, and I'm sure that will come.

But the real opportunity for Woods will be if he can actually connect in a meaningful way with people by revealing something of himself.

And it doesn't have to salacious or mournful. It just has to be real. That's what's been missing in all of this.

When asked in a radio interview if there were any particular people who he'd leaned on during his crisis; the best he could answer was "some friends".

Hey Tiger, here's some free advice: name them. Tell people how and why they helped you. A phone call they made; a story. Anything.

And understand: if he doesn't want to peel back the veil a little bit, that's fine. But you can't have it both ways. You can't want to keep your distance and then expect a carefully scripted and coordinated PR campaign to make you suddenly marketable for your corporate partners again.

The terms have changed: people aren't going to allow Tiger to dictate what we think of him.

It's up to him to put himself out there in a real way and allow people to make up their own minds.

In the same week that Tiger was trying and failing to use Twitter and publishing doubtless ghost-written first-person accounts of his trying year in a transparent effort to get ahead of this weekend's anniversary, Kobe was showing how these things can be done.

It was seven years ago that Bryant was on trial for sexual assault, and though he wasn't convicted, his out-of-court settlement and apology was a blow to a commercial image that was being crafted for him much like Woods' was.

Bryant has never asked for forgiveness from the public. Instead he's focussed on his professional legacy. And with his sustained excellence and the stubbed toe that is LeBron James and the Miami Heat, Bryant is emerging as the sympathetic greybeard of the NBA; the standard of professionalism for the sport.

And he's done it while making himself more accessible, not less. He took Cabral Richards -- a Canadian television personality from The Score -- for a helicopter ride. Bryant is one of the most accessible talkers in the NBA.

He recently explained how Michael Jackson - yes that Michael Jackson -- reached out to him when he was struggling as an 18-year-old with the Lakers. He even visited Neverland.

"I know it sounds weird," he said.

Yup, it does, but it's interesting. And rest of the interview, where Bryant talks about his growth into a leader and a veteran was too.

If Tiger Woods is interesting for anything besides winning golf tournaments and his promiscuity, I'm not aware of it.

This is a guy who won't even describe his workout routine; who won't say who is friends are; who seems determined to share not a single winning personal anecdote.

And until he does that -- until he actually shares something about himself -- it's going to be hard for that that tale of redemption to have the ring of truth.

You can follow me on Twitter: @michaelgrange

Follow us on Twitter: @Globe_Sports

 

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