LeBron James acknowledges Michael Phelps after dunk
PHOENIX -- There's not many instances where LeBron James is not the most accomplished athlete in the building, but that was the case Sunday after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Phoenix Suns and 28-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps was waiting to greet him outside of the visitors locker room.
James had a two-hand hammer dunk early on in the fourth quarter of the Cavs' eventual 120-116 win and pointed to Phelps, who was sitting with his wife, Nicole Johnson, on the floor to the left of the basket on that end of the court.
"It's just funny," Phelps told ESPN when asked about James' in-game acknowledgement. "I was just talking to people who were sitting around us and they were like, 'Did he just point at you or is he pointing at me?' And I was like, 'Yeah, I don't really know.' And then he drills a 3. It was awesome. Being able to come watch these guys play is always a treat and they gave us so much love over in The [Olympic] Games and being able to just come and see them when they're here in Phoenix is, like I said, a true treat to come and watch."
James had 12 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter to stave off a comeback attempt by the Suns, hitting two 3-pointers while standing right in front of Phelps' seats.
"Just recognizing greatness, that's all that's about," James said of his nod to the 23-time gold medalist.
It was another historic night for James, a two-time gold medalist, one-time bronze medalist and three-time NBA champion, as he became just the 14th player in league history to amass 10,000 made field goals.
James was presented with the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award in New York City last month and mentioned Phelps, who was also present for the ceremony, in his acceptance speech.
"There were so many unbelievable achievements in 2016, and we've seen so many great athletes," James said. "Obviously, Mike Phelps, you got -- we talk about you at the crib so much, man. You are literally a fish. Literally. Like, I have no idea how you do what you do. You would definitely win the game that me and my boys play -- let's see who can stay under the water the longest and not come up. You're not invited to that game, by the way."
James said he didn't get to spend one-on-one time with Phelps that night, but they've talked "a few times" over the years.
Phelps fondly remembered being around USA Basketball's "Redeem Team" at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"There with Bron and Kobe [Bryant]," Phelps told ESPN. "Those guys are obviously the best and to be able to watch them there and get to know them and still follow their career and what they do, it's truly just a treat for us."
Phelps also spent time chatting with Kyrie Irving, who won a gold medal in Rio last summer, and Kevin Love, who won a gold medal in London in 2012, after the game.