Posted September 30, 2013

LeBron James on ‘greatest of all time’ tag: ‘I’m far away from it, but I see the light’

Ben Golliver, Chicago Bulls, LeBron James, Miami Heat, Michael Jordan
LeBron meets Michael Jordan

A young LeBron James (left) met Michael Jordan after a Wizards game in 2003. (David Liam Kyle/Getty Images)

Fresh off of a season in which he won his second title, captured his fourth MVP award and secured his second Finals MVP award, LeBron James is allowing himself to dare to dream about his place in history.

Speaking at the Heat’s Media Day on Monday, James indicated that he believes he is within reach of Michael Jordan, Bill Russell and the rest of the game’s most-decorated legends.

“I want to be the greatest of all time,” James said, according to ESPN.com. “It’s that simple, I’m far away from it, but I see the light.”

This isn’t the first time that James has declared this specific goal, but it does seem to be his most optimistic self-assessment.

During 2013 All-Star Weekend in Houston, James referred to Jordan as his childhood hero and explained that his pursuit of the “greatest of all time” recognition was a self-motivating tool.

“I want to be the greatest of all time,” James said, adding: “As my talent continued to grow, as I continued to know about the game, appreciate the game, continued to get better, I felt like I had the drive, first of all, the passion, the commitment to the game to place myself as the greatest of all time, the best of all time, however you want to categorize it. I don’t do it to say I’m better than this guy or that guy. I do it for my own inspiration. I inspire myself. When I go out on the floor, I want to be the best of all time. That’s how I help myself each and every night.”

The presence of Jordan has followed James everywhere lately.  After the Heat defeated the Spurs in seven games to capture the 2013 title, James opened up to Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins, comparing his late jumper in Game 7 to Jordan’s Game 6 dagger against the Utah Jazz in the 1998 Finals.

 “I know it wasn’t the magnitude of MJ hitting that shot in ’98, but I definitely thought about him,” James said. “It was an MJ moment.” He paused as a turn of phrase came to mind. “It was an LJ moment.”

James and the Heat enter the 2013-14 season with the goal of winning their third straight title, something Jordan’s Bulls accomplished twice in the 1990s. What’s more, James is the odds-on favorite to take home the 2014 MVP award, which would be his third straight, something Jordan never accomplished.

The ever-present comparisons between MJ and LJ, in other words, are only going to intensify.

“That’s the life,” James said in February. “I understand it. That’s the life I live in. The comparisons are going to come. I’d rather be compared to Michael Jordan than somebody who wasn’t in the league very long. It’s very humbling. I’m grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given. Mike is in his own lane and I try to create my own.”

One key milepost on James’ journey towards “the light”: passing Lakers star Kobe Bryant in Jordan’s eyes.

“If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice,” Jordan told Yahoo! Sports earlier this year. “But five [titles] beats one every time I look at it, and not that he [James] won’t get five, he may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”

15 comments
drhee9
drhee9

LBJ trying to compare his G7 shot to Jordan's... ANYTHING?!

Why does no one remember game 6 where Ray Allen made a clutch 3 after Chris Bosh rebounded Lebron's brick? If the series ended there on his brick he would have been the laughing stock of the NBA, again. He needs to get on his knees and let ray  allen teabag him right on the chin.

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

MJ would beat LeBron easily.  He'd beat Kobe too... 

Fareed
Fareed

LeBron, you are close, but you have to development quickness no necessarily speed.  Quickness  entails knowing where to ball is going to be before it gets there.  This is something that can be developed with work and training.  You are on top for better or worse, staying there will tell the story, you have a fighting chance to be the best but you know it will take serious dedication and a little luck.

airmjbsanders
airmjbsanders

What sickens me @ this is dude is that he's been fuelin his own hype machine since he was a HS junior!  How @ showin some freakin humility for a change & not disrepectin the game by even suggestin that you have a chance at bein considered the GOAT!

IMO this dude has to win 4 in a row before he can even be in the discussion!  Right now he's in the Dream/Zeke category & I'd put both of those guys ahead of him b/c they did more w/ less around them...

WilliamLeach
WilliamLeach

LeBron's only knock is going to Miami for help! Call it what you like, but MJ played on some horrible Bulls teams at the start of his career and never thought about ducking the competition by joining an elite squad full of future HOFers! No question LeBron is the standard for today's NBA! But I'm sure D. Rose will have a say in that before it's all decided!!

Fatbaldandhappy
Fatbaldandhappy

Lebron is an all around monster.  The game has never seen anything like LJ.  Ever.  Michael was just plain nasty in his pursuit of titles.  Not only was he one of the most tenacious SOB's in history- he demanded everyone else on his team be the same way; and he got what he demanded.  MJ had wicked physical talent and he developed the ability to will his team to victory, but that took time.  You can see the same thing starting to happen with LJ.  Will he get there?  Time will tell.

BrianJohnson4
BrianJohnson4

MJ IS FOREVER THE G.O.A.T. MJ MORE ATHLETIC, BETTER SHOOTER, BETTER DEFENDER, MORE DOMINANT, BETTER IN THE PLAYOFFS, BETTER IN THE FINALS, MJ STILL HAS THE NUMBER 1 SELLING SHOE IN THE GAME AT AGE 50. ECT... MJ.G.O.A.T.

Mr. J
Mr. J

Jordan is looking at Lebron like damn thats a big a$$ kid!!

friendly--neighborhood--scrawler
friendly--neighborhood--scrawler

Physically / all around versatility Lebron is the greatest But so much is about rings and intangibles that is where Lebron needs to increase his stock then he will be no question the greatest to every play,  if he falls short of 6 plus rings all the have to do is look back on the years wasted in Cleveland.

ChristianCarpenter
ChristianCarpenter

But who took over in fourth quarter who hit a clutch three before ray hit his three lebron thats who thats what temates supposed to do have your back and for what I can remember jordan temates bailed him out plenty of times just saying and I absolutely think the two shots are comparable

Vandellish
Vandellish

@WilliamLeach 

Jordan didn't get drafted to a small market team with highly questionable management and maybe even ownership (remember how bad Gilbert looked with his Internet rant after 'the decision). Jordan also didn't play much in the free agent era that LBJ is fully ingrained in today. Believe it or not Jordan wanted Bird on his team early in his career and if they did join forces I don't believe it would've hurt either of their legacies.

James fulfilled his contract in Cleveland and decided to move to a better work environment, with better co-workers, with no state taxes, and be exactly where he damn well pleases. He has been rewarded for it and continues to build upon his success. We should all be so lucky in our own careers.

drhee9
drhee9

@Fatbaldandhappy  except he has a no heart. Rewatch the last minute of regulation of game 6 vs the spurs. He got bailed out by Ray Allen so hard... that the bail out will forever be remembered as one of the clutchest shots ever.

Everyone always seems to forget he made that shot after bosh rebounded LBJs horrendous brick to tie the game.

thomas.pynchon.fan
thomas.pynchon.fan

@BrianJohnson4 Shoes?  SMH at the prepubescent ignorance.  And NOT a better defender.  James can and has guarded at a high level all 5 positions.  Everything, I have no problem with.  MJ is the GOAT...as of right now.

Vandellish
Vandellish

I think comparing the athleticism is like splitting hairs. I think Bron's the better all-around defender though because of his size and I think he covers more ground defensively with the chase-downs. With that said Jordan may have been the greatest weak side/help defender of all time.

It'll be interesting to see how many rings Bron ends up with. The funny part is that he may have to go back to Cleveland to keep winning them.