LeBron James

LeBron James says meeting Michael Jordan for the first time was "godly"

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AP, USA TODAY

LeBron James says meeting Michael Jordan for the first time was "godly"

LeBron James and Michael Jordan are often-pitted against one another in basketball debates, with fans arguing which player truly is the greatest of all-time. 

Like Jordan before him, James has had a brilliant career and is considered by many as the best player since Jordan. But despite his own success, James said meeting Jordan for the first-time in June 2001 was "godly" for his 16-year-old self.

"It was godly," James said in a recent interview with ESPN. "I've said that over and over before, but it was like meeting God for the first time. That's what I felt like as a 16-year-old kid when I met MJ.

"MJ made the game global." "He made the game global. He made people all over the world want to watch the game of basketball because of his marketability, because of the way he played the game of basketball, because of who he was.

"He kind of transcended that era."

Jordan was 38 in June 2001 and technically retired, though he ultimately unretired for the second time. He joined the Wizards that fall, playing for Washington for two seasons, from 2001-03. Ironically, Jordan retired for the final time after the 2002-03 season, with James making his NBA debut that fall, in October 2003 with the Cavaliers.

At the end of the day, it's nice to know James had the same reaction that most fans would have if they got the chance to meet Jordan. 

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NBA Power Rankings: MVP race heating up

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USA TODAY

NBA Power Rankings: MVP race heating up

We are almost 30 games into the 2018-19 NBA regular season and the true contenders have started to seperate themselves from the pack.

The Raptors, Bucks and Sixers have been locked into a three-way race as the likely candidates for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, with the Celtics and Pacers gaining on them.

Out West, the entire conference is jumbled together with improved contenders popping up left and right, but the Warriors juggernaut appears  to be back on track. Strong MVP candidates have shaped the league this season and chief among them is former unanimous MVP Steph Curry. He has only played in 16 of their 27 games but has been absolutely astonishing when he has played.

The Warriors are a great team without Curry and a transcendent one with him. He is averaging 29 PPG, 5 APG and 5 RPG while shooting a career-best 51 percent from the field. Curry turned in a 42-point masterpiece in their recent win over the Cavaliers, and 20 points and 8 assists in a big win over the Bucks in Milwaukee.


The Bucks followed up that loss to the World Champion Warriors with a 5-point win over the Raptors. In the win, Milwaukee’s MVP candidate--Giannis Antetokounmpo--racked up 19 points, 19 rebounds and 6 assists and helped hold Kawhi Leonard to 8-18 shooting.


Even with the loss, Toronto is still in the top spot in the Eastern Conference and the play of Leonard is the driving force behind their league-leading 21 wins. And the other teams closing in on their record that haven’t been mentioned all have legitimate MVP hopefuls, sans the Clippers and Pacers, who have relied on an offense-by committee.

LeBron James—for once in his career—will actually be a dark-horse for MVP should the Lakers continue to sit in the lower half of the playoff race, fighting for seeds No.5 through No. 8. But his season can’t be ignored. James is leading the Lakers in points (28), assists (6), rebounds (7), and steals (1) per game. While Tyson Chandler and Javale McGee have been the key to the Lakers great defense, James has almost single-handedly elevated the Lakers offense to 15th in the league in offensive efficiency.

The Lakers will be a dangerous playoff team should they qualify, and it would be another reminder of the transformative power that James can have on a franchise.

We have big NBA games this week--more so in the West--that will suss out the MVP race a bit more. The Trail Blazers go up against the Grizzlies in Memphis, the Jazz take on the Magic in Mexico City, Nuggets play the Thunder in Denver and there is also a Lakers-Rockets rematch that features two squads that got into a very heated battle the last time they faced off.

The No. 8 seed is 8 games back of 1st place in the East, and a mere 3.5 games back of 1st place in the West, signifying just how tightly contested the 2018-19 season has been. See how the parity-filled league hierarchy shakes out in our latest Power Rankings, right here.

Wendell Carter Jr. joins some insane teenage company after 28-point, 3-block outing

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USA TODAY

Wendell Carter Jr. joins some insane teenage company after 28-point, 3-block outing

The best way to break out of a slump? Put up numbers that only five teenagers in NBA history have ever reached.

Wendell Carter Jr. posted the best performance of his young NBA career on Friday against the Pistons, scoring 28 points with seven rebounds and three blocks. The seventh overall pick was a monster on both ends of the floor, especially in the third quarter when he posted 17 of the Bulls' 25 points and blocked two shots, For the moment it kept the Bulls in a game they'd eventually lose by 19 points, their fifth straight.

The damage Carter inflicted on the Pistons put him in some seriously elite company. At just 19 years old (he won't turn 20 until after the regular season), Carter joined LeBron James, Kevin Durant Kevin Garnett, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins as the only teenagers in NBA history with 28+ points and 3+ blocks in a single game.

Towns and Wiggins both accomplished the feat in 2015, Durant did it twice in 2007 as a rookie, James reached those numbers early in his second season in 2004 and Garnett was finishing up his rookie season in 1995 when he posted his mammoth line.

Now Carter's on that list. And for what it's worth, Carter accomplished the feat in 32 minutes, fewer than any of the other teens.

He displayed his full offensive repertoire, with the Pistons having no answer for him and Zach LaVine's pick and roll action. Carter also scored a pair of buckets in post-up spots, an area he's struggled in during his rookie season.

Carter was far more aggressive than he had been during his recent mini-slump. Perhaps it was Zach LaVine's off-night (8 points on 3 of 12 shooting) or the Bulls being unable to get anything going from beyond the arc (3 of 21), but Carter attacked the basket, took open shots when he had them and didn't back down from the All-Star Drummond.

The performance came after he had averaged just 9.0 points on 40 percent shooting over the previous six games and went to the free throw line 17 total times. It wasn't necessarily a cause for concern, but it was nice to see him bounce back in a road setting against one of the tougher frontcourts in the NBA.

He stayed out of foul trouble and actually drew two fouls on Drummond in the first quarter, getting to the free throw line four times to begin his historic night.

Defensively, the three blocks were the most he had recorded since Nov. 10 against the Cavaliers. Though the Bulls were unable to slow down the Pistons from beyond the arc - they made 13 of 34 attempts, including a career-high six from Reggie Jackson - they didn't have as much success inside with Carter in the game.

He was poised, picked and chose his spots to avoid foul trouble and helped the Bulls get out and run when they did make stops.

Chalk it up as another performance for one of the most promising players in a star-studded 2018 NBA Draft class.

Carter's just beginning his run as the foundation piece of the Bulls' defense, and his efficiency on offense will only improve once Lauri Markkanen returns to space the floor.

Until that happens, we'll just have to marvel at the company he joined on Monday.