LeBron James Calls Meeting Michael Jordan in 2001 a Life-Changing Moment

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 18, 2020

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) reacts in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Brandon Dill/Associated Press

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James recounted his first meeting with Hall of Famer Michael Jordan in 2001 and called it a moment that "changed my life."

During an appearance on UNINTERRUPTED's WRTS: After Party, James compared speaking with Jordan to the first time he met his wife, Savannah Brinson, and Jay-Z:

"I literally couldn't believe it was him. I couldn't believe it. ... The dude looked like Jesus Christ to me. He looked like...he was Black Jesus to me. [...]

"We walk upstairs. ... We walk up there, and the first person I see is Charles Oakley. ... Oak move, and when he moves, Mike is sitting on the bench press, and I was like oh my f--king God. I didn't think he was real, man. You don't understand. I didn't think Michael Jordan was real. I only thought he lived in the TV."

The story begins at the 17:35 mark.

Kobe Bryant is the modern star most often placed alongside Jordan because he went out of his way to emulate the five-time MVP on the court.

Given his lofty status within the sport, Jordan obviously inspired countless other basketball players.

Earlier in the show, James called Jordan one of his childhood idols and said he was an "angel sent from heaven."

LeBron was a sophomore by the time he finally came into contact with His Airness.

Writing for Sports Illustrated in February 2002, when James was a junior, Grant Wahl referenced "top-secret workouts in Chicago" the previous summer that included Jordan and James, the player who has arguably come closest to supplanting him as the greatest ever.

ESPN's Brian Windhorst also detailed when James and Jordan crossed paths. James had been working out at a gym belonging to Tim Grover, Jordan's longtime trainer, when Jordan arrived at the gym to train.

"Michael talked to him about the pressure of dealing with expectations," Grover said. "He told him to take care of his body and to keep his circle small. And he told him to always do his homework."

Windhorst added that Jordan effectively ceded his role as the NBA's de facto ambassador, with James now the star many younger players view as their basketball hero.