LeBron James is the best player of his generation and arguably the second greatest player of all time. The King has been arguably the best player in the league for almost the entirety of his 19-year career, but he still hasn't been able to reach the GOAT, Michael Jordan, someone that James has confirmed inspired him when he was growing up and on the path to greatness.
For kids in the 90s, Michael Jordan was everything. No player came close to being as amazing as His Airness, but in the early 2000s, Allen Iverson and his impact came to the forefront of the league. Slightly undersized and unafraid, Iverson was a scoring machine on the court and became a cultural icon off of it. James has cited Iverson as an inspiration alongside MJ, but paid him an even higher compliment when asked about AI's impact in 2017 (via Sports Illustrated).
"He represented what black kids were all about, and he resonated with every inner-city kid in the world who had a struggle," James told Lee Jenkins of Sports Illustrated. "Michael Jordan inspired me, and I looked up to him, but he was out of this world. A.I. was really the god."
Iverson tried to help James navigate life at the top of the NBA in 2004, so it's safe to say that AI also thought very highly of LeBron. But his influence on the NBA in terms of saying what he felt and acting true to himself is what set AI apart from any other NBA superstar that went before him.
Michael Jordan almost transcended the sport at one point. His legend had become almost unattainable, but Iverson was someone that was very real and acted like it. While James' NBA legacy may have surpassed Iverson's by a lot on the court already, the era of players being allowed to be themselves today which LeBron has benefitted from wouldn't have been possible without the mercurial guard's existence.