CHICAGO -- His Airness is paying tribute to the kid called
Michael Jordan praised 22-year-old LeBron James for leading the
Cleveland Cavaliers to victory over the Detroit Pistons in the
Eastern Conference finals. The Cavaliers advanced to the finals for
the first time in their 37-year history.
What just transpired was something I felt was needed for the league, was needed for Cleveland, was needed for LeBron.
"What just transpired was something I felt was needed for the
league, was needed for Cleveland, was needed for LeBron," Jordan
said in Monday editions of the Chicago Tribune.
James dominated Game 5 against Detroit, scoring Cleveland's
final 25 points in the win. The Cavaliers became just the third
team to overcome an 0-2 deficit to win the conference finals.
Jordan, who won six NBA championships during his 13 seasons with
the Chicago Bulls, said the next challenge for James is to achieve
"Making 'The Leap' is where you do it every single night,"
Jordan said. "It's expected of you, and you do it. ... Not one
game, not two games. It's consistent. Every defense comes in and
they focus on you and you still impact the game. I think he's shown
signs of that."
James took a "big step" forward in the series against Detroit,
but the NBA finals against the San Antonio Spurs will provide
another huge test, Jordan said.
"This next series is going to say, 'How far do you want to take
it?'" said Jordan, speaking from Elkhart Lake, Wis., where his
motorcycle team was participating in a racing event.
James was thrilled to learn of Jordan's approval.
"It's great," the Cavaliers star said after practice on
Monday. "Anytime you get praise from the guy who basically laid
down all the stones for you to get here. I grew up idolizing his
game and how he played the game of basketball. It was definitely
great to hear."