LeBron continues to blur comparisons to greatness
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Miami Heat forward LeBron James drives during Game 4 of the second-round series against the Bulls. Miami leads the series 3-1.
The blur was there again the past week.
Every time LeBron James plays against the Bulls the imagination envisions him being trapped at midcourt by Jimmy Butler and Michael Jordan.
The Heat superstar is trying to beat the double team by sliding between the Bulls' present and past. He's whipping the former but still trails the latter … though not by all that much anymore as he flirts with Jordan's status as the best basketball player ever.
"You wonder how he can get better," Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was quoted as saying recently, "but he'll find a way."
Sounds like what people used to say about Jordan, doesn't it?
However James is faring against Jordan's ghost on the court he's faring better against it off the court.
"He never boasts about (being MVP of the league)," James' teammate Dwyane Wade said recently. "His saying is, 'I'm just a kid from Akron.'"
Remember how Jordan bristled at Jerry Krause's notion that "organizations win championships"? James expressed gratitude during his MVP acceptance speech for how Heat executives built a winner around him.
Remember how Jordan used to refer to his teammates as his "supporting cast"? James indicated that he would rather be down in the audience with Heat players than up on the podium above them.
Remember how Jordan scorched the earth in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech? James chooses instead to project humility.
Bulls fans booed James persistently in the United Center the past week during the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals. He deserves better than that even here in Chicago.
What a shame it is that to the Bulls crowd, James still is the guy who handled his defection from the Cavaliers to the Heat with a large measure of insensitivity.
James currently is the world's best basketball player. More significant to this discussion he has conducted himself with class since arriving in Miami.
James has done much to overcome previous indiscretions like "The Decision" that infamously turned people against him along the road from northeast Ohio to South Beach.
On the court, James has been named league MVP in four of the past five seasons. Off the court he has kept his name off police blotters and scandal sheets.
Only one accomplishment has eluded James: He failed to acquire that certain "it" that made Jordan universally popular.
Jordan actually was, in some instances both as a player and a person, more indiscreet than James is.
The difference is that whatever Jordan was caught doing — or suspected of doing — his charisma enabled him to remain a Teflon man.
James appears destined to remain, forever or for at least a while longer, on probation as punishment for the clumsy handling of his move from Miami to Cleveland.
No matter what happens going forward, James will be burdened by having to overcome how he sounded while saying that he was "taking his talents to South Beach."
Indications are that James is doing his best to remake has image.
LeBron James deserves better than to be booed in the United Center just for being LeBron James … or for blurring the lines between him and Michael Jordan.
Then again, maybe James should take it as a compliment that he is close enough to threatening Jordan's status to arouse those responses.
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