Seen and heard last night at Continental Airlines Arena:
M.J. ON LeBRON Michael Jordan has seen a number of players come into the league with the “next M.J.” moniker. Now that Ohio schoolboy sensation LeBron James has the mantle, what does the real M.J. think?
“I’ve seen him play numerous times, and for a 17-year-old, he’s probably one of the best and has the potential to be a very good basketball player,” Jordan said.
As good as James is he dominated the top-ranked high school team in the nation in front of a national television audience Thursday night Jordan says James can improve if he surrounds himself with the right people and keeps working passionately to improve his game.
“The key word is ‘potential,’” Jordan said. “Obviously, he’s got a lot of things coming at him, and his mental capacity is going to be the biggest thing that will decide if he is going to be a great basketball player or not. But [from] everything I’ve seen of him so far, he’s on the right track.”
If James is the next Jordan, his journey there will in no way resemble the road that Jordan followed. While James has been a phenom for whom sneaker companies have competed since he was a sophomore, Jordan didn’t start to gain any recognition until he was a senior in high school.
“I was under the radar, so people didn’t know who I was,” Jordan said. “That gave me an appetite to prove myself, to go to college and make a name for myself.
“There were other players who got the hype who didn’t turn out to be such great players. Pearl Washington is one. Everyone thought he was going to be an unbelievable player, and he just lasted a couple of years in the league. Hopefully, [James] understands that and he’s surrounded himself with people who are going to give him the right information and keep him focused. But right now he certainly looks better than any 17-year-old I’ve seen.”
John N. Mitchell