LeBron James Says He Wears No. 23 for 'The Great Michael Jordan'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers' LeBron James looks on during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019, in Philadelphia. The 76ers won 143-120. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)
Chris Szagola/Associated Press

If you thought LeBron James wore No. 23 in honor of perhaps Lou Hudson, Jeff Mullins or Calvin Murphy, well, think again. King James wears the number in honor of one man: Michael Jordan.

Growing up as a kid in the inner city, James noted he was seeking role models to gain inspiration from, and the big athletes at the time were players such as baseball's Ken Griffey Jr. and two-sport star Deion Sanders.

But Jordan was James' basketball hero.

"So when I started playing basketball, I was like: 'Oh man, that two-three looks good. I wanna be able to fly like him,'" James said. "'I wanna be able to shoot like him. I wanna be able to dunk on somebody like him. I wanna be able to stick out my tongue like him in the air and yell in somebody's face like MJ.'"

Three titles, four MVP Awards and 15 All-Star Games later, James has made his mark on NBA history in the same way his idol did. Many kids growing up in the 1990s wanted to "Be Like Mike"—James is the rare one who actually got close.

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