LeBron motivated by 'the ghost' of Michael Jordan

Ezra Shaw / Getty Images Sport / Getty

If LeBron James' NBA career were to come to an end today, his legacy as one of the greatest talents to ever grace the hardwood would be cemented, with no skeptics having the ammunition necessary to debate his legendary status.

Returning home to end Cleveland's dismal 52-year title drought, leading the Cavaliers to a championship after trailing 3-1 to the 73-win Golden State Warriors was perhaps his greatest achievement. With that victory being the crown jewel on The King's royal headpiece, it's easy to ponder James' next big objective as he continues down the path to immortality.

When asked by one of his campers what motivates him now that he's brought the Larry O'Brien trophy to Cleveland, the four-time league Most Valuable Player alluded to the only other player to have brought more prestige to the No. 23 than he has.

"My motivation," James says, “is this ghost I’m chasing. The ghost played in Chicago," according to Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins.

"My career is totally different than Michael Jordan’s. 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. 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."

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James (Accomplishments)

Player Seasons Championships NBA Finals MVP NBA MVP All-Star All-Star Game MVP All-NBA First Team
Michael Jordan 15 6 6 5 14 3 10
LeBron James 13+ 3 3 4 12 2 10

Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James (Statistics)

Player Games MPG PPG FG% 3P% RPG APG SPG BPG PER
Michael Jordan 1072 38.3 30.1 49.7 32.7 6.2 5.3 2.3 0.8 27.9
LeBron James 987 39 27.2 49.8 34 7.2 6.9 1.7 0.8 27.7

The armor His Airness forged for himself during his tenure atop the NBA seems nearly impenetrable. Going a perfect six-for-six in the Finals while winning MVP on every occasion is something James will never be able to touch, as he's fallen to the Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, and twice to the San Antonio Spurs.

The magic number to theoretically be in the conversation alongside the Chicago Bulls icon does appear to be six, though, regardless of the win-loss record. James still has many elite years left in the tank, and should he reach that illustrious mark, more and more doubters will be open to the idea that he's on Jordan's level, or possibly even ahead of it.

Maybe we should even consider that he's already there.

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LeBron motivated by 'the ghost' of Michael Jordan
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