CLEVELAND — Despite the two having been linked for the better part of the past 20 years, LeBron James and Michael Jordan admittedly don't have much of a personal relationship.
So with the rare opportunity to be under the same roof as his childhood idol, James made sure not to let the moment slip away. As the halftime ceremony to honor the NBA's 75th Anniversary Team at Sunday night's All-Star Game came to a close, arguably the two greatest players in basketball history shared in an embrace and playful conversation, creating a moment and images that proceeded to go viral on social media.
"There was so much chaos going on after we all split -- I did not want to lose the opportunity to shake the man's hand that inspired me throughout my childhood," James said after the game. "I haven't had much dialogue with him in my 19 years in this business, but a part of me wouldn't be here without MJ's inspiration. I always wanted to be like him growing up."
James noted that he has paid tribute to Jordan in multiple ways throughout his career, from wearing the No. 23 to the way he has styled his shoes and shorts and even the cars he's driven. On Sunday, the four-time MVP paid tribute to 'His Airness' in a different way, hitting the game-winning shot in what was a 163-160 victory for Team LeBron.
"It's crazy that the game-winning shot today was a fadeaway," James said. "And it was inspired by MJ."
While James and Jordan may not currently have much of a relationship, as this weekend showed, the bond between the NBA's living legends is eternal. And when fans look back on the 2022 NBA All-Star Weekend in Cleveland, one of the first images that will surely stand out is one of the few meetings between the two players who many consider to be the best to ever do it -- a memory that James will cherish as well.
"I didn't want to waste that opportunity," James said. "We're just not in the same building a lot. And we haven't been in the same building a lot throughout my career. It meant something to me."