LeBron James has ventured through much of his career chasing Michael Jordan’s shadow. It’s led to endless debates concerning the Los Angeles Lakers star’s legacy among the all-time greats, especially his place in the GOAT discussion with Jordan. All that has guided James’ true feelings regarding the matter where you’d think they be.
LeBron James embraces the GOAT discussion
James’ sustained success has unsurprisingly led to constant career comparisons to Jordan.
It’s an inescapable path that the star forward has chosen to fully embrace throughout his time in the league.
“That’s not for me to question or wonder or debate,” James said to ESPN after winning the 2020 NBA title. “For me personally, I have a way that I play the game. I have a way that I lead. I have a way that I challenge my guys and myself…we call it barbershop talk.
“You guys know how much I love Michael Jordan. I wear No. 23 because of Michael Jordan. When I first got my first pair of Jordans, you couldn’t tell me nothin’. So, ya’ll can do the debates. Ya’ll can figure that out.”
It’s a discussion he continues to remain beneath the former Bulls great in many eyes. Despite that, James has held a firm stance regarding his place in the discussion.
LeBron James revealed true feelings about constant Michael Jordan comparisons
Over the years, James has become deeply engrained into the GOAT conversation alongside Jordan in highly debated discussions.
The 36-year-old’s continued dominance well into the latter portion of his career has made it commonplace for any of his achievements to receive comparison to the former Bulls great. During a recent interview on ‘Bootleg Kev,” James’ former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate Iman Shumpert revealed the 17-time All-Star’s genuine feelings regarding the constant comparisons.
“Like I said, man, Bron you my dog, you know this though,” Shumpert said. “Me and Bron argue about this though. Bron laughs at that sh*t bro. He is in the conversation. Why the fu*k does he care? He’s getting compared to Michael Jordan dog.”
James certainly wants that prestigious title, but the fact that he’s well planted in the GOAT conversation is enough of a compliment. He may never surpass Jordan for that vaunted recognition, but there is a fair argument for why he belongs in that discussion.
That aspect alone provides James enough credence to hold the strong sentiment he has toward the matter. Jordan is the gold standard, and for the Lakers star forward to be mentioned in the same breath as his idol is an accomplishment in its own right.
Regardless of where he stands, James has more than eclipsed the tremendous hype that lay around him when he entered the NBA. He’s an all-time great that is still adding to his legacy.
LeBron James’ career remains an open book
Unlike Jordan, James is still adding to his resume.
The 36-year-old is still performing at an elite level with the opportunity to add more NBA titles and other prestigious recognitions. James has dealt with injuries in his 19th campaign, but he’s worked past them to maintain a high level of play, averaging a team-best 27.4 points per contest while shooting 51.7% from the floor.
Although the Lakers look far from an NBA title contender due to injuries and consistent performance, James is eyeing competing for another championship. Beyond that, he’s on pace to surpass Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time scoring mark.
James is a one-of-a-kind talent that has maintained his stellar nearly two decades into his career. There isn’t a time frame for when he will step into retirement, but instead of the constant comparisons to Jordan or any other all-time great, the focus should be on appreciating his greatness.
For many players of James’ status, the connections to past greats begin and stay with the player while they are still playing. He has cemented himself as one of the greatest players on an NBA hardwood, and that shouldn’t be overlooked or undervalued.