LeBron James changed his jersey number, won an NBA championship and still gets inevitably compared to Michael Jordan at nearly every opportunity.
With James producing at a record-setting clip that no one in league history had reached, just as Jordan’s 50th birthday approaches this weekend, classifying James’ place in the league couldn’t be a hotter topic.
James wants no part of it, posting on Twitter that he’s “not MJ.” And his peers say it’s time to back off all the comparisons.
Three-time scoring champion Kevin Durant said Thursday that it’s “unreal” what James has done “but it’s kind of hard to compare anybody to Michael Jordan.”
Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, who grew up in Chicago watching Jordan on TV, says quite simply, “There will never be another Michael Jordan.
“But you know what? That guy down there [James], he’s in the beginning of starting his own path. There will be someone who will be compared to the next LeBron James, but there will never be another one of him. Certain guys are that special and that unique.”
James entered Thursday night’s showcase game at Oklahoma City on an NBA record six-game streak of games with at least 30 points while shooting 60 percent or better.
Doing something that even Jordan never did on his way to six NBA titles made James the buzz of the league heading into All-Star weekend, which also happens to be when Jordan hits the big 5-0.
But if the run were to end, James said it wouldn’t matter to him.
“I don’t think about it. I never cared about my individual stats. All I care about is winning,” James said. “That’s all that matters to me. I don’t put no pressure on any stat or record. It just happens.”
Haslem misses game
Starting forward Udonis Haslem did not travel with the Miami Heat for their game Thursday night at Oklahoma City so he could get treatment for a lower leg contusion.
Haslem was injured in the first quarter of Miami’s 117-104 victory against Portland on Tuesday night. The game at Oklahoma City was the last one for the Heat before the All-Star break.
Rockets recall two players
The Houston Rockets recalled forwards Terrence Jones and Greg Smith from the developmental league. The 6-foot-9 Jones was a first-round pick by the Rockets last summer out of Kentucky. He has averaged 18.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 17 games for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers. The 6-10 Smith was in 26 games for the Vipers last year and three this year.