Michael Jordan gave 17-year-old LeBron James advice after they met for the first time.
Michael Jordan, the best basketball player of all time, met LeBron James in the locker room after a game. He gave him advice on how to improve his game.
Michael Jordan and LeBron James will go down in history as two of the greatest athletes of all time. The two are probably the greatest players in the history of the game. Jordan ruled the 1980s and 1990s, while LeBron James did so in the 2000s, 2010s, and now hopes to do it again in the 2020s.
The two guys have a combined total of ten NBA championships. Between 1990 and 2020, Jordan and LeBron James appeared in half of the NBA Finals, with Jordan reaching the sixth round and LeBron reaching the tenth. Throughout their careers, the two have dominated the NBA scene.
LeBron James was a role model for him as a child. LeBron James was born just months after Michael Jordan made his NBA debut. Jordan won his first NBA title when LeBron James was six years old.
By the time Jordan was ready to retire from basketball, LeBron was a scrappy 17-year-old who was making headlines throughout the nation as the greatest high school basketball player in the country, and a potential superstar in the making.
However, LeBron and Jordan met only a few months before Jordan retired and LeBron declared for the NBA Draft in 2003. According to Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, their encounter was really very pleasant and polite.
Jordan and the Wizards traveled to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers in 2003, and the two met there. Jordan showed in in one of his trademark outfits. LeBron was in the corridors and gave Jordan a warm welcome. Despite just knowing one other on a casual basis, they both welcomed each other as if they had known each other for years.
Jordan inquired about LeBron’s mother and where she was, to which James responded quickly. Jordan later offered LeBron some important basketball advise based on his own expertise and arsenal of moves on the floor during a discussion about basketball.
He instructed LeBron to take one dribble and then draw up for a shot, and he said he wanted to see him do it in the near future. “That’s my man,” LeBron said, ecstatic to finally meet his idol.
Michael Jordan enters the tunnel of Cleveland’s Gund Arena dressed in a slick navy blue suit, his burnished dome shining in the light, flashes a million-watt grin, and offers LeBron James, the country’s best high school player, a friendly, we’re-old-pals handshake. “Can you tell me where Mama is?” Jordan inquires.
“She’s in New Orleans,” LeBron adds, smiling as he recalls how well his mother, Gloria, got along with Jordan when they met last summer in Chicago.
It’s 10 p.m. on the final night of the month, and the atmosphere is tense, even historic. Remember the picture of Bill Clinton as a youngster meeting JFK? The atmosphere is the same. Here are His Airness and King James, the 38-year-old master and the 17-year-old prodigy, the greatest of all time and the high school student whom some think might be the Air Apparent, from salivating NBA general managers to feuding shoe company executives to spellbound spectators.
Jordan has just sunk the Cavaliers with another buzzer-beater, but the game isn’t over yet. LeBron James is a phenomenally talented 6’7″ 225-pound guard who averages 29.6 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 5.9 assists for St. Vincent-St. Mary High in Akron. He is believed to have all the components required to accomplish for some clothing business what Jordan did for Nike. He not only has the required high-flying skill and Iversonian street cred, which Jordan lacked, but he can also turn on the charm when needed. It’s why LeBron is a year away from signing what is believed to be the most expensive shoe contract in NBA history, worth $20 million over five years, and why Jordan, who represents his own Nike athletic wear business, would want LeBron to join the Swoosh family.
Tonight, though, LeBron is dressed in a black coat and stocking hat with the Adidas emblem, the sponsor of his high school team, which Jordan notices but chooses to ignore. They schmooze for a few minutes, bantering about LeBron’s next game, until Jordan departs, giving the following advice: “Stop and pull up after one dribble. That’s exactly what I’d want to see.”
LeBron grins and nods. He adds, “That’s my man.”
This wouldn’t be the last encounter they had. Jordan and LeBron met again a few months later. In fact, LeBron was previously photographed alongside Michael Jordan, as well as Kobe Bryant, Moses Malone, and Carmelo Anthony, in one of the best NBA pictures ever taken.
While LeBron was one of the most highly touted prospects in NBA history at the time, few could have anticipated his success. James was expected to be Michael Jordan’s heir apparent and to equal him as one of the best of all time.
While the extent of LeBron’s success in comparison to Jordan is debatable, there is little question that he lived up to the lofty expectations put on his shoulders.
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