When the NBA All-Star Game was in Cleveland, LeBron James was 11 years old. Then, the NBA Also elected to honor the NBA’s 50 greatest players. Twenty-five years later, 19 played in the NBA, James was still star-struck by the encounter with his childhood hero, Michael Jordan.
This past weekend, 37-year-old James was among 76 current and former NBA players nominated to all of the league’s all-time top players with Jordan. The group, comprised of MVP, MVP Finals, All-Stars, and Champions, was celebrated to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the league. In addition, the ceremony allowed him to meet face to face with one of his inspirations.
“I did not want to lose the opportunity to shake the man’s hand that inspired me throughout my childhood,” James said. “I haven’t had much dialogue with [Michael Jordan] in my 20 years or 19 years in this business, but part of me wouldn’t be here without MJ’s inspiration. I always wanted to be like him growing up.”
“I’m in one of those circles, and I can tell you all this they have mutual respect. LeBron idolizes Michael Jordan. He pays the utmost respect to Michael Jordan up until this year. He’s worn 23 his entire life because of Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan was everything to him, and Michael Jordan was a big brother,” Cook shared on Clubhouse in Courtside With Dukes’ room.
“It might not be for the public; I don’t think people realized how close he and Kobe were until Mike spoke at his funeral. Mike is not on the camera, and he’s not for the public, but he has a relationship with these guys. I’ve seen Bron call Jordan on the phone, I’ve been to dinner, and been to the club with Bron and Jordan. They have a great relationship, and LeBron can stand on his own, but he’s so humble he can reach out to the Magic’s, the Jordan’s, and all the guys he grew up [watching]. That’s how humble he is, and I can sit and tell you Jordan is a mentor to LJ [LeBron James].”
Cook added, “It’s just not out in public. To see them publicly embrace each other was great for people not to think they don’t have a relationship, but that’s completely false. Jordan is the most competitive guy you will ever meet all these guys are competitive in their own right. Like to told Magic, today let’s play one-on-one, but if guys need him, he is there. I know for LJ, he and Jordan have that relationship. So, all that they don’t have a relationship with each other is CAP.”
Two years ago, Jordan was asked about the comparison to James during an NBA press conference in Paris, France.
“We played in different eras,” Jordan said. “He’s an unbelievable player. He’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best player in the world. I know it’s a natural tendency to compare eras to eras. It’s going to continue to happen.
“I’m a fan of his. I love watching him play. But as you can see, our league is starting to expand on very talented players. I think he’s made his mark. He will continue to do so over a period of time. But when you start the comparisons, I think it is what it is. It’s just a standup measurement. I take it with a grain of salt. He’s a heck of a basketball player, without a doubt.”
James finished the 2022 All-Star game with 24 points, six rebounds, eight assists in 36:15 minutes, and hit the game-winner. Meanwhile, Steph Curry took home his first All-Star Game MVP after dropping fifty points, including an All-Star record of 16 three-pointers, five rebounds, and two assists.