Don't be fooled: Mike does like LeBron
Yes, Michael Jordan was critical of LeBron James, but that doesn't mean MJ isn't fond of LBJ.
Editor's note: As part of "The Stein Line" every Monday, ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein gives his take on things in "Slams and Dunks."
Perhaps you've heard Michael Jordan's biting statements recently about LeBron James. The line about how LeBron is "talented for 18 years old." How MJ downplayed LBJ's dominance in front of ESPN cameras, and everywhere else, because "he's played against high school kids who probably are under 6 feet and have the talent of sportswriters."
As one Western Conference executive told us last month: "As good as Darko is, he hasn't played with NBA players and left them standing speechless like LeBron."
Jordan's true feelings for LeBron were on display again in a Gund Arena hallway Tuesday night after MJ played his last game in Cleveland. Jordan approached the youngster, gave him a hearty hug and then whispered some advice. Jordan then backed off and loudly announced: "I can't be talking to you. I don't want to be tampering." Memo to Mike: It's not tampering until you're a GM again.
But it's believed that owner Gordon Gund favors a proven veteran, especially if the Cavs do score LBJ, with Mike Dunleavy Sr. still topping the list of candidates. Dunleavy's interest figures to be easier to gauge after the lottery as well.
Some potential consolation for Riles: There is a belief in Golden State that the Heat is more of a threat to steal Gilbert Arenas away in free agency than Denver, even though the Nuggets have the most cap room, because Arenas really does despise cold weather.
As for the North Carolina job, it's Philadelphia's Larry Brown -- not Karl -- who has been linked strongly to the Tar Heels. The Sixers don't want Brown to go, but they would undoubtedly like to bring Maurice Cheeks back from Portland, if they can swing it, should they have to replace Brown.
If I'm a Sonics fan, even though GP is no longer with me, I won't abandon all hope unless they trade Kevin Calabro. Losing the melodious Voice of the Sonics? Now that would hurt.