Since LeBron James entered the NBA, the spotlight remains squarely on him. Nearly two decades later, that hasn’t changed as he’s become the face of the NBA while reaching tremendous career heights. Along the way, the conversation has shifted firmly toward constant comparisons to Michael Jordan.
Jordan serves as the gold standard behind his heralded status as arguably the game’s greatest player. James hasn’t run away from the dialogue, but his career path hasn’t matched the former Chicago Bulls great’s resume. Despite that, the 18-time All-Star admitted that Jordan served as the greatest source of inspiration in his illustrious career.
LeBron James sits entrenched in the GOAT discussion
James completely surpassed the massive NBA expectations set before him as the most hyped high school talent.
His meteoric rise led him to become engulfed with comparisons to Jordan, especially after single-handedly leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA Finals appearance in only his fourth season. Since then, James has dealt with constant chatter linked back to his idol.
He’s repeatedly discussed the dialogue, moving to the point of confirming that Jordan is the ghost he’s chasing.
“My motivation is this ghost I’m chasing,” James said via Sports Illustrated in 2016. “The ghost played in Chicago.”
As the four-time league MVP moves closer to the end of his career, he has become further attached to the GOAT conversation. The discussion has led him to admit what was already known about his greatest basketball inspiration.
LeBron James admits Michael Jordan inspired him on his path to greatness
LeBron James’ career path has winded around the league, but comparisons to Michael Jordan have remained prevalent.
The Los Angeles Lakers star forward embraced the dialogue but never diminished his tremendous admiration for the former Chicago Bulls legend. With his idol present due to the NBA’s 75th-anniversary team at the 2022 All-Star game, James took advantage of the unique moment.
“I did not want to lose the opportunity to shake the man’s hand that inspired me throughout my childhood,” James said. “I haven’t had much dialogue with him in my 20 years or 19 years in this business, but part of me wouldn’t be here without MJ’s inspiration. I always wanted to be like him growing up.
“It’s crazy that the game-winning shot tonight was a fadeaway, and it was inspired by MJ. The way he wore his shoes, the way he wore his uniform, I mean, all the way down to some of the cars that he drove, how much he inspired me. I didn’t want to waste that opportunity because we’re just not in the same building a lot and haven’t been in the same building a lot throughout my career.
“It meant something to me.”
Although James’ playing style differs from Jordan’s, the Hall of Famer played a significant part in shaping the Akron native’s career path. Like many of his colleagues, the six-time NBA champion served as the primary source of motivation to pursue greatness.
James may never earn outright recognition as the game’s greatest player, but it’s crystal clear that Jordan indirectly served as a massive part in pushing the 18-time All-Star long in his NBA journey.
Michael Jordan comparisons will always remain
LeBron James sits firmly entrenched in the GOAT conversation alongside Michael Jordan.
The 37-year-old’s career remains an open book with the chance to capture more NBA titles. However, his past NBA Finals failures sit as marks against his legacy, pushing him below his idol.
James will soon grab the league’s all-time scoring mark while shattering other historical feats. He’s shaping the last chapter of his career that will garner him a firmer footing in the GOAT discussion.
Ultimately, Jordan remains the ghost that he may never catch. Regardless of where James sits in NBA lore, he’s cemented his place among his peers.