LeBron James motivated by desire to be best ever

Stephen A. to LeBron: Go ahead and chase that ghost (1:38)

The First Take crew agrees that LeBron James' goal to chase Michael Jordan's ghost is good motivation for him, but Stephen A. Smith still believes MJ's unblemished record will eclipse LeBron's accomplishments. (1:38)

You would think that helping his hometown end a 52-year title drought would allow LeBron James to take his foot off the gas. But he can't because he's still in pursuit ... of Michael Jordan.

"My motivation is this ghost I'm chasing," James said in an interview with Sports Illustrated. "The ghost played in Chicago."

James, who grew up in the Greater Cleveland area, this season led the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first championship, overcoming a 3-1 Finals deficit in the process. He picked up his third title after winning two with the Miami Heat. The four-time MVP is one of the best ever, but Jordan is considered by many to be the best.

"My career is totally different than Michael Jordan's," James said, according to Sports Illustrated. "What I've gone through is totally different than what he went through. What he did was unbelievable, and I watched it unfold. I looked up to him so much. I think it's cool to put myself in position to be one of those great players, but if I can ever put myself in position to be the greatest player, that would be something extraordinary."

James conceded that he had wondered whether it was possible to dig out of the hole the Cavaliers were in against the Golden State Warriors.

"You're down 3-1, and nobody has ever come back from 3-1," he said, according to SI.com. "You're facing a team that won 73 games, and you're going back to their home floor, where they just won 54 in a row. Self-doubt creeps in."

He said he sent a text message to his teammates after Game 4 saying, in part, "Let it go, play hard, be focused, follow my lead, and I'll make sure you get home for a Game 6."

James scored 41 points in each of the next two games, both victories, to set up a winner-take-all Game 7 in Oakland. James put up a triple-double, and the Cavaliers pulled out a close win. James had arguably one of the best Finals of all time, leading both teams in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. He took a huge step forward in his pursuit of Jordan.

But MJ does still have six titles to James' three. And the Warriors went out and signed Kevin Durant this offseason. As a result, James has been in the gym by 6 a.m. lately.

"I'll have peace when I'm done," James said, according to Sports Illustrated.