LeBron James has played in the shadow of Michael Jordan his entire career. The man christened "King James" before he had played a minute of action in the NBA
On Tuesday, he did something that no one has ever done, not even Jordan. James scored 30 or more points while shooting above 60% for the sixth straight game.
On the heels of his record-setting night, James tweeted something about his legacy on Wednesday morning. "I'm not MJ, I'm LJ," he said, referring to Jordan.
James still has some catching up if he wants to match Jordan's six championship rings and five MVP awards, but he is already doing things Jordan could not, like defending any member of the opposing lineup and combining a deadly three-point shooting game (he is shooting 42% from beyond the arc this season) with a post-up game that looks awfully familiar to that of Hakeem Olajuwon.
His peers are taking notice. After Tuesday's game against Portland, the Trailblazers were not shy in praising James. "You have to guard him close, you have to play him tough and we did that," Nicolas Batum told The Oregonian of James. "But, I mean, we're just human. He's not."
Another Blazer, JJ Hickson, couldn't even complete a sentence. "The things that he does, it’s just..." he began before trailing off. "You just can't explain it."
How hot has James been? In the six games covering the streak, he has scored 185 points on 66-of-92 shooting (71.7%). And lest you call James a ball hog, he has averaged 6.5 assists per game during the stretch, with only 3.6 turnovers per game.
"Obviously, he is doing something that is amazing and special," teammate Dwyane Wade said.
And maybe it is not even appropriate to compare James, whose body is more akin to Magic Johnson's than Michael Jordan's, to MJ. Last week, Jordan's sidekick Scottie Pippen called James "the most complete player the game has ever seen," and suggested that Jordan could not do some of the things James does on defense and as a passer.
Hoops fans will never have a definitive answer to the Jordan vs. LeBron debate, but whereas it used to be assumed that James would never reach Jordan's level, now the perceived gap between the two is incredibly small (and it is not an automatic win for Jordan at all).
"I'm at a loss for words," James said after Tuesday's game. "Like I say over and over, I know the history of the game. I know how many unbelievable players who came through the ranks, who paved the way for me and my teammates.
"And for me to be in the record books by myself with such a stat — any stat — it's big-time."