Ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers' game in Charlotte against the Hornets on Saturday, LeBron James looked back at the first time he met Michael Jordan, all the way back in 2001.
Via ESPN's Dave McMenamin, James reflected on exactly what that 16-year-old, high school version of himself was thinking when he met Chicago's No. 23: "It was godly. I've said that over and over before, but it was like meeting God for the first time," James said. "That's what I felt like as a 16-year-old kid when I met MJ."
With the same number on his jersey (for the most part), LeBron has come as close as anyone to emulating the career and impact Jordan had on the game of basketball, with the Lakers forward closing in on Jordan on the NBA's all-time scoring list. James trails Jordan by around 450 points (at the time of publishing), for fourth place, with only Kobe Bryant (3rd), Karl Malone (2nd) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st) in front of him.
James has been compared to Jordan for most of his adult life, with the burden of expectation placed on the 33-year-old from a young age. Winning three NBA titles and four MVPs, James has carved out a Hall of Fame career of his own, but is still amazed at being compared to the Bulls legend.
"Any time I'm even mentioned with the greats that played this game and guys before me who laid the path, laid the grounds in this work and allowed me to be in this position, it's always humbling and gratifying for my city," James added.
"Just knowing where I come from, some of you guys know where I come from that's been there and some of you guys haven't but where I come from, there's not many of us. It's very limited. It's very, very limited inspirations. Very limited resources. Very limited everything. So for me to be in this position where I'm at today, it's just a blessing."
While Jordan brought the NBA to the world as the sport's popularity exploded in the 90s, thanks largely to his sheer dominance and electrifying style of play, James takes pride in continuing that legacy as the face of the league ... and, of course, Nike basketball.
"MJ made the game global," James said. "He made the game global. He made people all over the world want to watch the game of basketball because of his marketability, because of the way he played the game of basketball, because of who he was. He kind of transcended that era."
Congrats to @KingJames of the @Lakers for moving up to 5th on the NBA's ALL-TIME SCORING list! #LakeShow #ThisIsWhyWePlay pic.twitter.com/jUoPKfGRAv- NBA (@NBA) November 15, 2018
James passed Wilt Chamberlain for fifth on the all-time scoring list in November. At his current pace, he is on track to pass Jordan in scoring sometime in January.