NBA fans go wild over photo of LeBron James and Michael Jordan

Chris Young
Sports Reporter

With the NBA postponed for the foreseeable future, the college season cancelled and international leagues following suit, basketball fanatics have been digging deep into the archives to get their hoops fix.

One such venture into the history books has yielded one particularly valuable image in hardwood history - a teenage LeBron James doing battle with a then 40-year-old Michael Jordan in an off-season scrimmage.

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It marks a rare intersection between two titans of the NBA - one yet to enter the league, one soon to retire, both to go on and be acknowledged as, arguably, the two best ever to step onto the court.

The image shows James and Jordan on court during a scrimmage in Chicago, likely sometime in 2003 - the year Michael Jordan retired from the NBA after his comeback with the Washington Wizards, and the yeah James was drafted with the first overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Old interviews with NBA players and personalities can shed a little more light on the image.

An undated photo, likely from the early 2000s, shows a young LeBron James sharing the court with NBA legend Michael Jordan. Picture: Twitter/@ThrowbackHoops

Former player Metta World Peace, known at the time as Ron Artest, said ‘nobody could guard him’ of a young James, who sheer ferocity as a teenager allowed him to mix it with the NBA veterans in the scrimmage.

“He was cooking. Nobody could guard him,” World Peace said, recounting an open gym run featuring himself, Jordan and a young James.

“They couldn’t guard him. I’m like, ‘He’s embarrassing us’.

“He was coming down, full speed, LeBron James.

“I laid him on the floor, he’d get up and start cooking more. He’s just tough.

“He was about 225 pounds at that point, but I remember him just being tough.”

Young LeBron James able to hang with NBA veterans

Maverick Carter, a lifelong friend and business associate of James, shed a bit more light on those runs and the players a young LeBron faced when he gave an interview to Fox Sports’ Chris Broussard in 2017.

“He was out there playing, and if you watch the game — he wasn't, like, dominating, but he didn't stick out,” Carter said. 

“You didn't go, like, 'Oh, there's a kid out there.' It was, like, 'Oh, there's just another player out there.'

“It would be interesting to see how he remembers those games, but I remember them, for sure, as him not at all ready to defend.

“But he never stuck out either way, which is impressive for a 16-year-old kid. He didn't stick out like he didn't belong, but he wasn't dominating anyone.

"But he was getting buckets and making plays and kind of being the LeBron you know today."