LeBron James has long been the self-proclaimed king and now he’s ready to state that he’s the GOAT as well. Take that, Michael Jordan.
His reasoning is simple. It’s because he led his home state team to the city’s first championship in decades, turning Cleveland into Believeland with a comeback from a three-games-to-one deficit against the Golden State Warriors.
“That one right there made me the greatest player of all time,” James said on ESPN’s “More Than An Athlete” series about a career that is now in its 16th season.
"That’s what I felt. I was super, super ecstatic to win one for Cleveland because of the 52-year drought. Like, I was ecstatic. That day, the first wave of emotion was, everyone saw me crying, that was all for 52 years of everything sports that have gone on in Cleveland. And after I stopped, I was like ‘That one right there made you the greatest player of all time.’
“Everybody was talking about how they [the Warriors] were the greatest team of all time. Like, they were the greatest team ever assembled, and for us to come back, the way we came back in that fashion, I was like ‘You did something special.’ That was, like, one of the only times in my career I felt like ‘Oh s---, you did something special.’ I haven’t really had time to really sit back and think, but that, that was a moment.”
Now, James, who averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists in the Finals against the 2016 Warriors, didn’t mention Jordan by name. Still, his comments will add kindling to the debate over which player is the greatest.
In October, James joked about that debate when Jordan did a promo for the “Sunday Night Football” showdown between Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers. “A lot of talk going on these days about who is the greatest ever,” Jordan said. “About who has the titles, the raw talent, the most clutch moments. I get it, it’s a tough call. I mean, even the jersey numbers are the same. But maybe the best way to settle this debate is to play it out, head to head. I’ll watch that.”
James caught it and, with his tongue planted firmly in cheek, he threw down the GOAT gauntlet via Twitter, suggesting that they perhaps take the argument to the court.
As for Jordan, well, he isn’t one to let a challenge pass, famously saying of noted yapper LaVar Ball, “I don’t think he could beat me if I was one-legged.” Nor does he fail to remember everything. As he was being inducted into the Hall of Fame, he told the coach who failed to pick him for the high school varsity team, “You made a mistake, dude.”
No doubt he is aware of what James just said. And, lest you think James is being sacrilegious, note that he has idolized Jordan; he wears No. 23 because of him.
“My motivation is this ghost I’m chasing,” James told Sports Illustrated after the Cavs won the title in 2016. “The ghost played in Chicago.”
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