Jay C. Brandriet
In the shadow of a Lakers season falling apart, last night was another milestone in the brilliant career of LeBron James. He moved past Michael Jordan for fourth place on the NBA’s all time scoring list. During the time out, James was hiding his face in a towel. He was over come with emotion.
While this evening was all about points, LeBron focused on those who had given him an assist.
James had written “Thank you MJ 23” on his shoes.
Here are excerpts from his post game press conference.
“For a kid from Akron Ohio that needed inspiration and some type of positive influence, MJ was that guy for me.
I wanted to be like MJ.
Wanted to shoot the fadeaway like MJ.
Wanted to stick my tongue out on dunks like MJ.
Wanted to wear my sneakers like MJ.
I wanted kids to look up to me at some point like MJ.
It’s crazy to be honest. It’s beyond crazy.”
“I obviously didn’t handle my emotions well at the beginning of tonight’s game. I started 0-4 from the free throw line. That ball was flying off my hand. I figured I could go out there and get 13 points, but I didn’t know how it was going to happen. A couple of teammates asked me when I get to the point total how I would like it to be?”
“Either a fade away in the post, or off two feet, lean in, tongue out dunk.”
“It’s just crazy. Me and my best friends…all we talked about was MJ.
We used to play outdoor ball in the snow and rain in North East Ohio and we all wanted to be MJ.
We all wanted to be Jordan…every last one of us.
My high school best friend just text me and they can’t believe it. I can’t believe it. We just remember walking down the streets with a basketball singing….I wanna be like Mike. I wanna be like Mike.”
A reporter then asked…”When you guys were playing in the park and thinking about Jordan, what stood out most….what made him THE guy for you”?
LeBron shook his head. “Same thing that made him the guy for everybody. Name it. He was everything.
Obviously we all saw how unbelievable he was on the floor.
The way he wore his shoes.
The way he wore his shorts.
The tights hanging out with the two and the three.
The way he wore his calf sleeve. He folded it down so you could see the red part on the other side.
The way he wore his wrist band on the elbow with the 23.
I always wanted to wear 23.”
“When you’re an inner city kid like my guys growing up, you look for any lightning in a bottle that can inspire you. MJ had a lot to do with me making it out. Mike had no idea what he was doing for a kid that was a 45 minute flight away when he was in Chicago putting in work.”
“It means a lot to me to be an inspiration. Michael was an inspiration to me.”
“The first time I met him, I was 15 years old. I went up to play some summer basketball in Chicago. It was like meeting a God. I never thought I would meet MJ. You always would see him in magazines, Wheaties boxes, McDonald’s and Gatorade commercials. We would go to the mall to look at his posters, and go to the shoe stores. I wasn’t able to afford Jordan’s at that point and time in my life.
“I always loved what he was about. You guys have no idea man. I’m trying to tell you, but you have no idea what MJ did for me and my friends. Some days you don’t even feel like you’re going to make it to the next day where I grew up.”
“Like I wrote on my shoes tonight, I thank MJ more than he would ever know. Hopefully I can inspire the next kid.”
Classy words King.
The older I get, I realize we are the product of other people’s influence.
Usually the topic is… Jordan vs LeBron.
Today, it’s easier to see that Michael Jordan, is part of who LeBron James is.
Jay C. Brandriet