Michael Jordan’s Shocking First Impression of LeBron James
LeBron James is arguably the most-hyped player that the league had coming out of high school before heading into the NBA. Many dubbed James as becoming the next all-time great superstar given his dominance at the high school level, along with his tremendous physical qualities. However, not everyone bought into the praise around him as being the next great thing in the NBA. That saw former Chicago Bulls great Michael Jordan be among those that cast their doubts about James.
LeBron James’ hype entering NBA
During his high school career, LeBron James rose to stardom around the nation behind his stellar play at St. Vincent ST. Mary.
James became much-watch TV in his final two years in high school as he was a physically dominant player that grew to legendary status in quick order behind his impressive performances. That led to the chatter centering on him potentially making the leap out of high school like some of the game’s greatest talents such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett, and Tracy McGrady.
James garnered significant traction as being a can’t-miss NBA prospect that was a shoo-in to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. Not everyone bought into the hype around him that included one of his idols.
Michael Jordan’s Initial Impression of LeBron James
LeBron James may have been the crown jewel of the 2003 NBA draft and dubbed “The Chosen One” that all NBA players didn’t exactly share hype.
Among those was Michael Jordan as he voiced then that he didn’t believe that James would be a star player from the get-go and thought you could turn into a “good pro” if he dedicated himself to his craft. (H/T ESPN)
“I think he’s talented for 18 years old,” said Jordan. “Once he gets to this level, I don’t think he’s in the upper echelon of two guards or small forwards. I think he’s toward the bottom — respectively so, because there’s so much about his game that he’s going to have to adapt to. He has unbelievable potential. I think that’s what everybody is looking at, everybody is raving about. But he hasn’t played against competition consistently, college or pros. He’s played against high school kids … You have to give that some credence.
“When you look at the skill level and his maturity at his age, he’s definitely talented enough. Five years from now? If he takes on the dedication of being the best basketball player he can be, and continues to improve and accept challenges and not get comfortable with what’s been given to him or what the expectations may be, he could definitely be a good pro.”
That certainly isn’t any shining praise from Jordan as he didn’t have any high expectations for James entering the league. That said, he did see the talent that the Akron-product had but didn’t initially believe that could translate into what he has become in his illustrious career.
LeBron James far exceeded Michael Jordan’s expectation
Beyond what Michael Jordan stated about him entering the league, LeBron James blew passed all the expectations that were put in front of him.
Yes, he has had his shortcomings in the Finals, but he has become one of the game’s greatest players that is still vying for that GOAT status that Jordan holds. James has multiple NBA titles to his name while he could eventually finish his career first career points while being firmly in the top five on the all-time assists list. James has the individual accolades to his name with four MVP awards, 15 All-Star selections, 12 All-NBA First Team nods, and three NBA Finals MVP awards, among others.
James has left his mark on the NBA and moved far beyond any expectations that Jordan or anybody else placed on him entering the league.