NBA

LeBron James Compares His Situation With the Cavaliers to Ken Griffey Jr.’s With the Mariners

Ken Griffey Jr. and LeBron James are two of the greatest athletes of all-time. Griffey had a Hall of Fame career with the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds, and was ultimately one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. James, on the other hand, is considered to be one of the two best basketball players of all-time, and his spot in the basketball hall of fame is already reserved. Despite them playing in two completely different sports, James recently compared his situation with the Cleveland Cavaliers to Griffey’s with the Seattle Mariners.

LeBron James and Ken Griffey Jr. are two of the greatest athletes ever

LeBron James and Ken Griffey Jr. are two of the greatest athletes of all-time. Their career paths are actually pretty similar.
(L-R) LeBron James and Ken Griffey Jr. | Andrew Weber/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images; Focus on Sport/Getty Images

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Griffey Jr. had some big shoes to fill as his dad, Ken Griffey Sr., was a pretty good baseball player in his career. Griffey Jr. lived up to expectations, though. 

He was ultimately a 13-time MLB All-Star with the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds. Griffey was also a 10-time Gold Glove winner, an AL MVP, a seven-time Silver Slugger, an All-Star MVP, and a one-time Major League Player of the Year. Griffey finished his career with a .284 batting average, 1,662 runs scored, 1,836 RBIs, and 630 career home runs, which is seventh all-time. 

James also had high expectations to live up to as he was dubbed the next Michael Jordan before he even came into the league. Like Griffey, though, James has lived up to expectations. 

He has been a 16-time NBA All-Star with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Los Angeles Lakers. James is also a four-time league MVP, a three-time NBA champion, and a three-time NBA Finals MVP. James has also scored 34,087 points in his career, which is third all-time, and he has 9,298 career assists, which is eighth all-time. He also has a 27.1 career points-per-game average, which is fourth all-time. 

James praised Griffey in a documentary

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MLB Network recently aired a documentary called Junior about Griffey Jr.

LeBron James actually appeared in the doc.

“Growing up in inner city, there’s like two sports that you play,” James said, according to Bleacher Report. “There’s either basketball or football. That’s just, that’s just the way it is. But when you have a, when I say like a phenom like a Ken Griffey Jr. that’s playing baseball, it’s like, ‘Wow.’ You know, he’s like the staple for, you know, young African Americans. It’s like, I want to get out there, too.”

James also went on to say that Griffey made “the game of baseball cool.”

The King compared his situation with the Cavs to Junior’s with the Mariners

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LeBron James was a No. 1 overall pick as a teenager and was considered to be the savior for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Griffey was also the No. 1 overall pick as a teenager and was also considered to be the savior for the Seattle Mariners. 

Before drafting James in 2003, the Cavaliers had not been to the playoffs since 1997-98. They had also not made it past the First Round since 1992-93. The Mariners had never made the MLB playoffs before drafting Griffey. 

“There are so many challenges to being a young phenom and everybody is now saying, ‘You’re the savior,'” James said. “Because I know, personally, how difficult it is to be a teenager, to be a phenom, and then to be drafted No. 1 to a franchise and they’re saying, ‘Listen, you’re our last hope.'”

That is not the only situation in Griffey’s career that James compared his to, though. After playing in the majors for the Mariners from 1989 through 1999, Griffey went to the Cincinnati Reds. Griffey went to high school in Cincinnati as his dad played for the Cincinnati Reds from 1973 through 1981, and then again in 1988, 1989, and 1990. 

“I didn’t really understand the full magnitude of when he left Seattle to go back home until I became a professional and understood what it means to play in front of your home fans. There’s nothing like it,” James said.

LeBron James and Ken Griffey Jr. are two of the best athletes of all-time. Their career paths might actually be more similar than you think.

Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference and Baseball Reference