Like Mike? Peers see LeBron for own greatness

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - LeBron James changed his jersey number, won an NBA championship and still gets inevitably compared to Michael Jordan at nearly every opportunity.

With James producing at a record-setting clip that no one in league history had reached, just as Jordan’s 50th birthday approaches this weekend, classifying James‘ place in the league couldn’t be a hotter topic.

James wants no part of it, posting on Twitter that he’s “not MJ.” And his peers say it’s time to back off all the comparisons.

“It’s simple. There will never be another Michael Jordan,” said Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, who grew up in Chicago watching Jordan’s games on WGN. “He was the first to do a lot of things. Whenever you’re the first, there can never be another.

“But you know what? That guy down there (James), he’s in the beginning of starting his own path. There will be someone who will be compared to the next LeBron James, but there will never be another one of him. Certain guys are that special and that unique.”

James entered Thursday night’s showcase game at Oklahoma City on an NBA record six-game streak of games with at least 30 points while shooting 60 percent or better.

Doing something that even Jordan never did on his way to six NBA titles made James the buzz of the league heading into All-Star weekend, which also happens to be when Jordan hits the big 5-0.

But if the run were to end, James said it wouldn’t matter to him.

“I don’t think about it. I never cared about my individual stats. All I care about is winning,” James said. “That’s all that matters to me. I don’t put no pressure on any stat or record. It just happens.”

And just because LeBron is adding to his own lore doesn’t mean that it has to come at the expense of Jordan’s greatness.

“I think those two guys are different,” three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant said. “LeBron’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of player. I think people really were waiting for him to win the championship to compare, just like any other great player. … It’s not a knock on LeBron or taking anything from him, because the stuff he’s done is unreal as well, but it’s kind of hard to compare anybody to Michael Jordan.”

At the Heat’s shootaround, James was asked to reflect on the first time he met Jordan. It happened during James‘ sophomore year of high school, when he visited a spot where Jordan worked out in the offseason in Chicago.

He can’t remember anything Jordan said to him _ or if the two spoke _ but he recalled watching Jordan’s every move during what he called a chance to meet a “hero.”

James started his NBA career wearing Jordan’s No. 23, but switched to 6 later and suggested that no one in the league should wear 23 again out of tribute to MJ. The plan never stuck.

And while establishing his own identity, James still finds himself dodging Jordan’s impressive shadow.

Story Continues →

View Entire Story

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player