Last August, fresh off of leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to an NBA title win, LeBron James admitted to Sports Illustrated that his "motivation is this ghost I'm chasing," referring to Michael Jordan. At the time, King James added that if he could ever put himself in position to be the greatest player, "that would be something extraordinary."
Well, fast forward to now, with James on the brink of punching his ticket to his seventh consecutive NBA Finals, and the three-time league champion is now clarifying those original remarks about chasing the ghost of MJ.
When asked if surpassing Jordan as the NBA's all-time leading playoff scorer would be part of chasing his ghost, King James flat out said, "Nah," before clarifying his original statement.
"It's just a personal goal of mine. It has nothing to do with passing him in rings, passing him in points, passing him in MVPs," James told a pool of reporters today, as reported by ESPN. "It's just my personal goal to keep me motivated. That's all."
James added: "Guys are going to have the conversation about who's the greatest of all time and things of that nature. It doesn't matter to me. At the end of the day, it's so funny that the conversation is always talked about in the NBA about who's the greatest. But it's never talked about in the NFL — 'Who's the greatest quarterback?' It's just like, '[Dan] Marino, [John] Elway, [Peyton] Manning, [Tom] Brady — all great quarterbacks.'"
He continued to explain why "it should be the same for us" in the NBA.
"We go out and just try to be as great as we can be every night," he said. "The comparison of always trying to compare people, either living or still playing or not playing, I think it's great for barbershops. But for me, I'm just trying to put my mark on the game and leave a legacy behind so I can inspire the next group of kids that want to play the game the right way."
Hearing King James say that chasing MJ's ghosts isn't him trying to jump over the Jumpman will inevitably have hoop fans saying that he's seeing how unstoppable the Golden State Warriors have looked and might be trying to save face in the scenario his Cavs lose to them in a Finals trilogy. But what LeBron said does make sense.
Entering the Cavs Game 5 tonight against the Boston Celtics in their Eastern Conference Finals, James needs just 28 points to surpass Jordan (5,987 points) for the most points in NBA playoff history.
Even though, LeBron vows to not be trying to surpass Jordan's six rings, what can he do to possibly jump over the GOAT?
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(Photos from left: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images, Chris Trotman/Getty Images for USTA)