Heat forward LeBron James appeared to glance at Bobcats owner Michael Jordan before throwing down a dunk during Miami's 98-85 road victory over Charlotte in Game 3 on Saturday.
With a little more than seven minutes remaining in the third quarter and Miami leading 66-49, James broke out in transition for an uncontested dunk. As he rose to slam smoothly with his right hand, James looked off to his right in the direction of Charlotte's bench, where Jordan had been sitting and cheering on his team during the franchise's first home playoff game since 2010.
After the game, James denied any stare down, even though the ESPN broadcast crew was convinced James was sending a silent message.
"Don't start that," he said, when asked whether he glanced at Jordan. "Absolutely not, man, absolutely not. I was able to read [Josh] McRoberts, get a steal and push the lead back up. I absolutely didn't look at MJ, for sure."
Back in November, Jordan said that James is the best player in the NBA, marking a change in tune, as he’s generally favored Lakers guard Kobe Bryant.
”It’s hard to pick. It’s hard to say the best player,” Jordan told the Associated Press in an interview. ”You would have to say LeBron because of what he’s capable of doing. Kobe is coming off an injury and you don’t know where he is going to be at his age. I would have to say LeBron.”
Back in February 2013, Jordan told NBA TV that he would take Bryant over James because the former had five championship rings, while the latter only had one at the time (James won his second last June).
“If you had to pick between the two, that would be a tough choice, but five beats one every time I look at it,” Jordan said. “And not that he [James] won’t get five, he may get more than that, but five is bigger than one.”
James has embraced the challenge of eclipsing Jordan as the greatest ever.
“I want to be the greatest of all time,” James said in September, according to ESPN.com. “It’s that simple, I’m far away from it, but I see the light.”
James finished with a game-high 30 points (on 10-for-18 shooting), 10 rebounds and six assists on Saturday. Dwyane Wade added 17 points (on 7-for-16 shooting), six assists and three rebounds in the win.
Al Jefferson led the Bobcats with a team-high 20 points (on 8-for-13 shooting) and five rebounds. Kemba Walker and Josh McRoberts each added 13 points in a losing effort.
Miami's victory pushed them to a 3-0 series lead over Charlotte in the first-round series. Game 4 is set for the Time Warner Cable Arena on Monday.