LeBron James was stunned when he met Michael Jordan.
As a sophomore in high school, James saw the six-time champion use the press bench in Chicago in 2001. He felt as though he had religious experience.
“I really don’t believe it’s him,” James said in an interview with Uninterrupted. “I can’t believe it. That dude looks like Jesus Christ to me. He is the Black Jesus to me. Nobody can tell me something different.”
Jordan is his idol. His brain cannot calculate that they are in the same room.
“I’m like oh my god damn it,” James said. “I don’t think he’s real, man. You don’t understand. I don’t think Michael Jordan is real. I just think he lives on TV, whether in games or commercials or” Come Fly With Me “on a cassette. I don’t think he’s real. When I see it I am like, “If the person above will take me that day, I will live a very bad life.” I swear to God, after seeing Mike. “
James, who grew up in poverty in Akron, Ohio, said Jordan greatly affected his life.
“Michael Jordan is a bit like that, God,” James said. “He is an angel sent from heaven. I use it to help me get through the darkest days I’ve experienced. People say, ‘You’re only nine years old.’ But there are many dark days when you grow up the way I grow up and you are part of a single parent family. “
When things are difficult, Jordan becomes a distraction. When he had to move 12 times between the ages of five and eight, Jordan reminded him that another life might happen. When there wasn’t enough food on the table, Jordan gave him hope.
“Every day, if I get a chance at WGN to watch Mike, it gives me extra life,” James said. “It makes me feel like I can get out of this situation.”
That is why Jordan who retired in surprise in 1993 after the death of his father made James so devastated.
“I feel maybe I should give up too,” James said.
The stranger had become a family member for him.
“When you are a nine-year-old child and you need inspiration from someone, they become your father, which I need,” James said. “They became your brothers. They became your teammates. They became your priests. They became your heroes. Like Batman and Michael Jordan to me when I was growing up.”
When Jordan withdrew from the game, James lost. He did not know where to turn. Who wants to be.
“Without Mike, what should I do now?” James said. “Who will be my inspiration? And that makes me cry.”
Jordan, of course, returned to the NBA for the 1994-95 season, winning three more championships in a row in 1996-98.
The impression that Jordan left James as a child was so strong that, to this day, he counts meeting him 19 years ago as one of the most formative experiences of his life.
“There are two people I met in my life who changed my life,” James said, before correcting himself and saying there were actually three people, including Jay-Z. “… met my wife who has been with me since 2002, and when I met Michael Jordan in 2001.”
James, the three-time NBA champion and four-time MVP, was transfixed on television the last five Sundays watching the documentary series “The Last Dance,” which follows Jordan and the Bulls through all their setbacks and victories.
That made him lose basketball so much that he tried to shake his dog.
“He approached me, I made him a little hard, slapped him, let him fly,” James said. “… He looked at me like, ‘What are you doing, dad?'”
James, who is known to have one of the highest IQs in the game and being a basketball historian, said he knew about many of the dynamics at Bulls before watching the 10-part documentary series, including Scottie Pippen’s problem with his contract, Jordan’s struggle with the front office and Dennis Rodman’s tendency to lose practice.
But one thing surprised him.
“Do I know [Rodman] skip the Final rehearsal for wrestling? “James asked, laughing.
James admitted that he would be upset if one of his teammates tried to pull like an acrobat.
“As a team leader, I’d be like, ‘Dennis, what are you doing? We need your presence. We need you here,'” James said.
However, James added that his anger would quickly subside.
“Then he comes out and makes you 20 rebounds in the Final match?” James said. “You like, ‘Maybe this works for Dennis. Let Dennis do what he does.'”
James added that it was a shame that the Bulls were destroyed after winning the 1998 championship, their sixth title in eight seasons.
“You would be happy to see him go for seven,” James said. “When we watched him in the ’98 Final, he was not in a place that was nearly washed … He was not near his last position. This bastard can still leave. He is still the best player in the world.”
Although Jordan was criticized for being too harsh on his teammates, James said he respected his leadership style. He identified himself fully consumed by victory – and was willing to do anything to make it happen.
“Sometimes I hope to be a golfer,” James said. “Sometimes I wish I was a tennis player, where I challenged myself. Because I knew in the end, I would enter work. I would go 24, 48, 96 hours without sleep because I was training my body, mind me, my soul to win, win, win in any way. “
James added that he would love to play with Jordan.
“Of course, I don’t really care about how great Mike is, and how transcendent he is as a personality, as a person,” he said. “But only his encouragement.”
James thinks their game will be free.
“My best assets work perfectly with Mike,” James said. “Mike is a killer. Mike is a killer when it comes to playing basketball, printing the way he scores the ball. My ability to graduate, my ability to read the game – play and play and play in advance. And then just take the challenge. I like when teammates come to me and challenge me and tell me, ‘All right, come on now. “
James hinted that he didn’t mind Jordan pushing him. He pointed to the fact that he enjoyed this type of motivation throughout his career.
“When I was in Miami, D[wyane] Wade used to be like, ‘All right, six, let’s go,’ “said James.” T[yronn] Lue often challenged me when I was in Cleveland. He would be like, “Alright bro, what are you waiting for?” I just saw that at Mike and I felt our game was the perfect correlation to be successful. “
James then says another sentence that will forever dance in the minds of every basketball fan.
That possibility is too interesting to imagine.
And too brilliant to forget.
“I just thought it would be an ‘overall’ level with me being a point of development next to him during the Chicago walk,” he said.
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