LeBron chases Jordan legacy after title for Cleveland
WASHINGTONOct 22, 2016 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Oct 22, 2016 12:00 am
LeBron James, who achieved a life dream by bringing home Cleveland's first sports title in 52 years, now draws motivation from wanting to eclipse Michael Jordan as the greatest player in NBA history. James, a native of nearby Akron, will begin his 14th NBA campaign Tuesday as the Cavaliers raise a championship banner at their 2016-17 season opener against New York. "I'm looking forward to seeing the banner go up: 2015-16 champions. It means a lot," James said. The 31-year-old playmaker, a four-time NBA Most Valuable Player, unleashed one of the NBA's greatest one-man efforts last June as Cleveland made the biggest comeback in NBA Finals history from 3-1 down to beat Golden State in the best-of-seven series. James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.3 blocked shots and 2.6 steals a game - leading the finals in each category in an unprecedented feat that earned him unanimous NBA Finals MVP honors. James sought the fairytale ending when he returned to Cleveland in 2014, having won two titles in four seasons with the Miami Heat after playing his first seven NBA seasons for the Cavaliers.
Now he admits his drive and inspiration come from trying to overtake former Chicago Bulls star Jordan and be seen as the greatest player in NBA history, a Herculean challenge that should see James to the end of his career.
"My motivation is this ghost I'm chasing. The ghost played in Chicago," James was quoted by Sports Illustrated as telling a high school basketball player.
"What I've gone through is totally different than what he went through. What he did was unbelievable and I watched it unfold. I looked up to him so much.
"If I can ever put myself in position to be the greatest player, that would be something extraordinary." Jordan, now 53, won six titles in six trips to the finals in the 1990s with Chicago, each time the NBA Finals MVP. He was the regular season MVP five times, an NBA All-Star 14 times and the NBA scoring champion 10 times. He's also the all-time NBA playoff scoring leader and ranks fourth on the all-time NBA regular-season scoring list. In his five seasons after age 31, Jordan won three titles with Chicago and made a two-year comeback from retirement with the Washington Wizards from 2001-2003, retiring for good at age 40. By that scale, James has nine more years to make his case as the Greatest of All Time.