Mar 31, 2009, 06:55AM

Passing MJ

LeBron James surely has the stats to match Michael Jordan's legacy, but an involvement in politics (and/or advodacy)—something Jordan famously never did—would put King James in a class of his own.

To be great:

One frontier Jordan didn't fully explore is ready and willing for the King to claim as his own: China. Swangard re-tells an old story about NBA commissioner David Stern's first trip to China, when he tried to persuade the government to allow NBA games to be shown on TV. Stern was informed that tapes of Jordan's games had already been smuggled into the country, because, "The people always loved watching Mr. Jordan from the Red Oxen," Swangard said.

If he seizes the opportunity, James could become as popular in China as Yao Ming by the end of the decade. Coinciding with Team USA's gold-medal performance at the Beijing Olympics last year, the NBA opened its first two merchandise stores in China with many more to come. It's by far the global market with the most potential for growth, and the millions of eyeballs and billions of dollars could provide the boost LeBron needs to separate himself from Jordan


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