Cade Cunningham is not to blame. He was born in 2001, after all, and it would be impossible for him to recall Michael Jordan’s underappreciated years as a Washington Wizard in 2001 and 2002, let alone his career with that other team in Chicago, where he won six NBA championships.
“I always say I’ve seen LeBron James. I was never able to be around to see full games and know all of the storylines that went into games like that with Michael Jordan “Cunningham stated this in a podcast. Cunningham can also be excused for forgetting the specifics of the 2011 Finals, when LeBron and Miami blew a 2-1 series lead to Cunningham’s childhood team, the Dallas Mavericks. James had eight points in Game 4 but was a minus 24 in Game 6.
“It’s difficult for me to put someone ahead of LeBron because he’s the best player I’ve ever seen with my eyes,” Cunningham said. “I’ve seen all of Michael Jordan’s work, and the man is unique. I can’t argue with you that he is the GOAT, but in my opinion, LeBron is.”
Yes, Cunningham quickly realized he was speaking with a biased reporter who grew up in Chicago supporting the Bulls—as correct as that reporter believes he is. Meanwhile, Cunningham is attempting to carve his own path as the first overall pick. He’ll be attempting to resurrect a Detroit franchise that hasn’t won a playoff game since 2008. He’ll be careful not to put too much pressure on himself.
“In this league, I think perspective is everything,” Cunningham said. “I’m the number one pick, and I know people want to see instant success and impact, and trust me, I’m going to get to it right now. I intend to win and put on shows right now, but I also recognize that I am 19 years old, new to the league, and have a lot to learn about it. I know it’s going to be a long journey.”
Whenever Cunningham discusses success, his attention quickly shifts to the team and his desire to be a leader of a group that achieves great success.
“I’m really focused on being able to win championships,” Cunningham said. “I know you can’t win a championship in a summer league game.” “I understand how difficult it is to win a championship in your rookie season. It’s all about hard work and steady progress.”
Cunningham is the son of a hardworking family. His father awoke at 4:15 a.m., followed by his mother, who worked for an electric company and a travel agency. Their work ethic influenced Cunningham, who appears to be much more mature than the average 19-year-old. “I’ve seen my parents go through adversity, stay calm, never make me or my siblings feel like anything was going on,” Cunningham said. “I think the best thing I did growing up was just pay attention and listen to my elders and watch what I liked and didn’t like.”
Cunningham was also influenced by one of his brothers who is a strict vegan. He plans to live a vegan lifestyle as an NBA player to gain a further edge on his competition.