They state that they were great, as in exemplary. I think in Phil's eyes, Yuna is the current "great" alone because of an amazing track record that no other athlete is close to matching. Mao for her amazing jumps and grace has been OTP 3 out of 7 times at Worlds. Patrick has yet to win an Olympic medal.
So he's not saying that Ashley, et al aren't "great" it's that they aren't Great with a capital G. I mean seriously, I'm sure there were amazing players in Jackie Robertson's time in baseball, but historians has put Jackie as one of the GREATS. Same with Michael Jordan. Michael Phelps in swimming. Serena Williams in women's tennis. And so on.
Speaking of which, he tweeted this:
One of 7627 reasons why Yuna Kim in class of her own: Second world title put Kim on podium in all her 30 intnl competitions, sr/jr -21 wins
As I said I disagree with Phil. I think when people in this sport look back at the last two Olympic quads, they will state that Yuna AND Mao were among the greats, despite Mao's struggles.
But I also disagree with the assessment that it was a baseless tweet. There are many folks who believe that Yuna stands in a class of her own, not just Phil, because of the reasons I stated above.