LeBron James referred to Jordan earlier this summer in a story reported by Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins, in which he told a group of campers what drives him as he enters into the 14th year of his storied career. LeBron James will always look for ways to add to his brand and legacy, while taking steps toward supplanting Michael Jordan as the greatest player of all-time.
"My motivation," James said, "is this ghost I'm chasing. The ghost played in Chicago."
Jordan, with six championships, six Finals MVP awards, five regular-season MVPs and the fourth-most points in NBA history, is widely considered to be the best basketball player of all time.
James, with three championships, three Finals MVP awards, four regular-season MVPs and the 11th most points in history (and counting), also acknowledged his pursuit of Jordan on the podcast.
LeBron answered, “I think so….I feel like my brain as far as the game of basketball is unique and I would love to continue to give my knowledge to the game.” He then continued, “And I would love to be a part of a franchise, if not at the top. My dream is to actually own a team and I don’t need to have fully hands on. If I’m fortunate enough to own a team, then I’m going to hire the best GM and president that I can.”
Even with the price of NBA teams on the rise after ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer purchased the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion in 2014, owning a team is an achievable aspiration for James. Counting the extension he signed this summer, James will have earned more than $270 million in player salary in his career. He also inked a lifetime contract extension with Nike last year worth more than $1 billion, according to his business partner Maverick Carter. Also, his annual income from endorsements, Nike included, totaled north of $50 million, according to Forbes.
Michael Jordan is the only former NBA player that currently serves as the principal owner of a team. (Jordan owns the Charlotte Hornets.) Last season James said he was "always kind of watching," Jordan's run as a businessman for inspiration but stopped short of outright declaring that he intended to own a team. "I mean, I've positioned myself for a long time for whatever I want to do, if I want it," he said at the time.
LeBron James will be in position to do what he wants as he will be basketball’s first billionaire, raking in 76 million this year according to Forbes and his lifetime deal with Nike is reportedly valued at a billion dollars.
The 3-time champion referenced “chasing the ghost in Chicago” of Michael Jordan earlier this summer to keep him motivated. Jordan is currently the owner of the Charlotte Hornets and had a short stint as president with the Washington Wizards in the early 2000s before coming back to play for them at age 38 in 2001.
In the nearly 90-minute podcast, James touched on a variety of topics, revealing that he was watching the "Eddie Murphy Raw" stand-up special in the middle of the night after Game 4 of the Finals when he sent a group text message to his teammates, readying them for an improbable comeback from a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors to take the title.
As for the Warriors, without specifically mentioning Kevin Durant, James offered his opinion about star players coming together to join the same team. James once joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, and now Durant has similarly joined his star power with that of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green for Golden State.
"You look at Fortune 500 companies and you look at great CEOs, they don't go hire a CFO that's [considered] 50th on the chain," James said. "They go hire the No. 1 guy. They go hire the No. 1 guy. It's like they all go hire the best guys because, listen, they know those guys are going to help them be successful. It's different how it's portrayed in our sport, which is fine, because I love the competition."