Just before he went out and gave his Cleveland Cavaliers an improbable 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals—by hanging 40 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists on the Golden State Warriors in Game 3—-LeBron James spotted another local sports legend sitting courtside and paid his respects.

James bowed theatrically to Jim Brown, and the Hall of Fame running back was deeply touched by the gesture.

Brown was especially moved that LeBron took time to acknowledge him in such a high-pressure situation.

Per the NEOMG:

“It was an honor for this young man to pay tribute to an old soldier,” the Browns Hall of Fame running back said Wednesday. “It was very special to me. We all want to be acknowledged by our peers and by good people and respect is a great word. I look at it as a gesture of respect at a moment when LeBron is the man.” […] “It was one of my favorite sports moments of all time,” said Brown, who placed his hands together and pointed back at James. “He didn’t have to be thinking about me, so for him to even have the brilliance to show that kind of respect, it doesn’t happen too many times in my life. It was a wonderful feeling.”

 

“He does a 1,000 things in so many different ways that are positive and a lot of them people might miss,” said Brown. “Well they didn’t miss the one last night. And I guess he knew what he was doing, because he inspired people by just being respectful to me. And that’s quite a deed.” […] “I’m 79 years old and I’ll be 80 in February,” said Brown, a special advisor to the Browns. “And man, that’s a lot of years. And to have a young man even think of me during the pressure that he was going through and the pressure of that type of game, it’s a wonderful, wonderful honor.”

 

The gesture also symbolized the possible bridge between the last Cleveland championship 51 years ago — when Brown’s Cleveland Browns won the 1964 NFL title — and the next one, if James can carry the injury-riddled Cavs to two more victories over the Golden State Warriors, who trail 2-1. Game four is Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena. […] “I think that’s what’s so significant about all of this,” said Brown. “People have expectations now and they see the possibilities of a championship and the Cleveland fans are the best in the world. Cleveland is a great city and it has a great history, particularly in sports. There’s a great expectation now, there’s hope now and it’s fun because these guys are playing team ball. LeBron is doing it the way it should be done. The guys on the bench are stepping it up and they’re hustling their butts off. They’re working hard, believe me, there’s hard work out there that they’re doing.”