One of my favorite writers is Michael Wilbon. So now that I told you that Wilbon is one of my favorite writers you know that I am going to tell you that I disagree with him.
Early this free agent season, Wilbon wrote an article in which he suggested that the ghost of Michael Jordan would negatively impact the chances of the Chicago Bulls in acquiring the services of LeBron James.
[T]he drawback in Chicago is an obvious one: the ghost of Michael Jordan. If LeBron wins a championship in Chicago, he'll be five behind Jordan. Chicago will never be his town. Jordan is Chicago's Babe Ruth, and it's hard to see LeBron, no matter how attractive the Bulls' roster is to him, going into Jordan's back yard to take on the man whose reputation as the greatest pressure player the last 40 years would serve as a constant reminder, at least in the beginning, of what LeBron has been so far unable to accomplish.
There is no doubt that Jordan casts a very long shadow in Chicago. Clearly for Wilbon, the ghost of Michael Jordan would prevent James from coming to Chicago.
If James doesn’t come to Chicago it will not be the result of not wishing to play in the shadow of Jordan.
James has grown up being told he was the next great player, the chosen one, or how many of his fans refer to him—the King. James has always worn the number 23 to honor Michael Jordan, the player he grew up idolizing.
James has never run away from those who wished to compare him to Jordan. The spotlight of being the man clearly doesn’t bother him.
While there is no doubt that commentators, fans and historians will always compare what James accomplishes in comparison to Jordan the fact of the matter is that James is more likely to see himself as carrying the torch as opposed to replacing the standard bearer.
Great players love the idea of carrying on the tradition of a great franchise.
Yes, the money is great but why do so many baseball players want to play for the New York Yankees? The Yankees are the most successful team in the history of baseball and players want to be a part of a tradition of winning championships.
Basketball players are no different.
Remember when Kobe Bryant came into the league? Bryant wanted to be a member of the Los Angeles Lakers not because he was going to measure himself against Jerry West or Magic Johnson but rather he wanted to be a part of the winning tradition that is the Los Angeles Lakers.
Need further proof?
Remember when Kobe briefly flirted with the idea of leaving the Lakers, which team was rumored as the team that had the inside track in getting Bryant? Kobe was going to leave the Lakers to join the Chicago Bulls.
If James goes to the Bulls he will not be worried about the ghost of Michael Jordan. James will not get lost in the conversation how he has fallen short of the number of championships won by Jordan.
Great players want to carry on the tradition of winning championships and James is a great player.
James will be comfortable winning championships and being the recipient of the symbolic torch passed by Jordan.
Of course, if Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson join James in Chicago . . . James just might win as many championships as Jordan.