LeBron James, fresh off an MVP award, NBA title, Finals MVP and gold medal, isn’t quite at Michael Jordan’s level, teammate Dwyane Wade said—but he’s not far, either.
"Just watching LeBron play, I mean he’s just playing at a different gear right now," Wade told the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Thursday. “That monkey is off his back and now he’s just playing basketball. I think we’ll continue to see a better LeBron James—it’s scary to say, a three-time MVP—than we’ve seen.
"And it’s because all he’s got to do is play basketball now. He doesn’t have to worry about what he hasn’t done, even though it will always be something. But he got the biggest one off this back. He played exceptionally well."
Wade, coming off arthroscopic knee surgery, also said that he’d be ready for the Heat’s season opener against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 30 but might miss the start of training camp.
Wade, speaking at his basketball camp, grew up in Chicago idolizing Jordan and didn’t dismiss the comparison, which has followed James around for his entire career.
"He’s on that level," Wade said, "but he has a lot more to do to get there. I think he understands he has an unbelievable opportunity to be one of the greatest to play this game. But that’s when he gets done playing, he can say that.
"Right now, he has so much more to cover in his career. He’s just getting started at the same time when Michael kind of just got started. We’ll see how it all shakes out. I hope it shakes out the same way. I’ll be a very happy man."
Former Jordan teammate and longtime friend Charles Oakley, naturally, has a differing opinion.
“I don’t know why they started this, Jordan had six rings, LeBron has one, Jordan has six Finals MVPs, LeBron has one,” Oakley told the New York Post earlier this week. “I think the better comparison is Kobe Bryant.
“They weren’t even talking about this a year ago. LeBron wasn’t in the picture last year, but now that he’s won a title and a gold medal he is? It’s just more hardware, it doesn’t change the field.”
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