The best players in any sport find ways, no matter how small they might be, to stay motivated and avoid complacency after winning multiple championships.
Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, a three-time NBA champion and four-time league MVP, apparently has that motivation, and it involves the man many consider to be the greatest NBA player of all time.
“My motivation is this ghost I’m chasing. The ghost played in Chicago,” James recently told Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated.
He’s obviously talking about Michael Jordan.
“What I’ve gone through is totally different than what he went through,” James said. “What he did was unbelievable, and I watched it unfold. I looked up to him so much. I think it’s cool to put myself in position to be one of those great players, but if I can ever put myself in position to be the greatest player, that would be something extraordinary.”
James, much like recently retired Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, earned comparisons to Jordan right after high school at 18 years old.
Bryant handled the pressure pretty well, capturing five NBA titles and finishing third on the league’s all-time scoring list — just ahead of Jordan.
James still has a lot of work to do in order to get on the same level as Bryant and Jordan. The Cavs star probably will pass Jordan in scoring — he’s fewer than 6,000 points away — but it’s a different stat that really matters.
The stat is championships won.
Jordan was 6-0 in NBA Finals and never let any of those series reach a Game 7. Starting with the 1991 NBA playoffs, Jordan’s Bulls won six titles in the seven playoffs he participated in. The only one they failed in was 1995, but Jordan didn’t play the whole campaign because he was still in baseball when it began.
James is 3-4 in the NBA Finals with some ugly games in some of the losses. It’s not impossible for him to approach Jordan’s level, but he still has to win several more titles, and that won’t be easy with what’s happened in Golden State over the last month.
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