LeBron James: Michael Jordan's Playoff Number Change from 45 to 23 'Legendary'

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMay 11, 2020

FILE - At left, in a July 30, 2018, file photo, LeBron James speaks at a news conference after the opening ceremony for the I Promise School in Akron, Ohio. At right, in a Feb. 12, 2019, file photo, Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan speaks to the media about hosting the NBA All-Star basketball game during a news conference in Charlotte, N.C. LeBron James is finally going to pass Michael Jordan. In scoring, at least. While the debate will rage forever about which player is better, James will soon have scored more points than Jordan. James is 211 points shy of passing Jordan (32,292) for the No. 4 spot in NBA history. (AP Photo/File)
Uncredited/Associated Press

Arguing who is the GOAT between Michael Jordan and LeBron James is practically an industry all to itself, but the latter had nothing but praise for the Chicago Bulls legend during Sunday's episodes of The Last Dance.

Part of the seventh episode focused on Jordan's return to basketball from baseball and Chicago's second-round loss to the Orlando Magic in the 1995 playoffs.  

Although Jordan averaged 31.0 points per game in the loss, Nick Anderson stole the ball from him in the waning moments of Game 1 to set up the winning basket for the Magic. He famously said No. 45, which is the number Jordan first wore when he returned, wasn't as difficult to stop as No. 23, and Jordan responded by wearing No. 23 in the next game and from there on out.

LeBron, who also revealed he cried at nine years old when Jordan retired for the first time, approved of the move:

LeBron James @KingJames

Damn the series lost(rusty), MJ so cold that he went from 45 to 23 from game 1 to game 2 in the playoffs! Haha. That’s legendary! #LivingLegend

While the Magic won that series in 1995, Jordan led the Bulls to a playoff victory over the same foe on the way to the 1996 title. He said Anderson's comments, as well as the fact former Bulls player Horace Grant was carried off the floor the previous year, served as a motivating factor.

Those 1996 Bulls won the first of what would become three straight titles in the second three-peat of Jordan's career.