He also harmed his ability to ever be what so many young basketball players strive to be someday. Besides winning titles, youngsters want to be what Michael Jordan was: the best ever.
James is a great player, but his move to Miami means he will never be considered better than MJ.
As Bill Simmons wrote in The Book of Basketball, Jordan was pathologically competitive.
In my lifetime, only one superstar was routinely described like Hannibal Lecter. "Michael is a killer. Michael will rip your heart out. If you give Michael an opening, he will kill you. Michael smells blood. Michael is going for the jugular. Nobody goes for the kill like Michael Jordan. They're on life support and Michael is pulling the plug."
Simmons went on to write about how Jordan will never happen in the NBA again.
The NBA is too buddy-buddy now. These stars grow up together, befriend one another, hang out during summers, play Team USA together, text and email each other ... it's a big circle jerk ... The greats from Jordan's era always maintained a respectful distance; even when Magic and Isiah smooched each other, there was a coldness to it.
Of course, Simmons writes this whenever (the book came out last fall), and then we see three old Team USA teammates (LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh) fulfill a discussed goal of playing together in the NBA in 2010.
Can you see Jordan doing this with Larry Bird and Magic?
"There's no way, in hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry (Bird), called up Magic (Johnson) and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team,'" Jordan said during an interview on NBC after playing in a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada (photo right). But, Jordan added, that was a different time and the NBA played a different type of game during his heyday. "Things are different," Jordan said. "I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
See? He was trying to beat them.
It consumed Jordan, and it's part of what made him so great. Simply put, Michael didn't have time to be friends with Bird, Magic, Kareem, Isiah, Dominique, and whoever else. He was too busy trying to destroy them. That famous competitive drive was what everyone respected about MJ, and it's the same drive he couldn't shut off when he made an ass of himself during his Hall of Fame induction.
Like Jordan said, James had an opportunity to make this move. He was free to do so. But you don't have to read between the lines to see the reality.
Michael Jordan is fully aware that LeBron James will never be Michael Jordan, at least not as long as he's riding Dwyane Wade's coattails.