So what does the greatest player who ever lived think of LeBron’s decision? Judge for yourself.

“There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry (Bird), called up Magic (Johnson) and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team,'” Jordan said after playing in a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada. “But that’s … things are different. I can’t say that’s a bad thing. It’s an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys.”

TNT analyst Charles Barkley said James’ decision may change his legacy. “He’ll never be Jordan,” Barkley told 790 the Ticket in Miami. “This clearly takes him out of the conversation. He can win as much as he wants to.”

Barkley added, “There would have been something honorable about staying in Cleveland and trying to win it as ‘The Man’ … LeBron, if he would’ve in Cleveland, and if he could’ve got a championship there, it would have been over the top for his legacy, just one in Cleveland. No matter how many he wins in Miami, it clearly is Dwyane Wade’s team.”

“Mike and I are in 100 percent agreement on this,” Charles Barkley said this week. “If you’re the two-time defending NBA MVP, you don’t leave anywhere. They come to you. That’s ridiculous. I like LeBron. He’s a great player. But I don’t think in the history of sports you can find a two-time defending MVP leaving to go play with other people.”

Disappointment from their elders is only part of the backlash James and Wade — more so than Bosh — will face as they embark on their magical mystery tour. The other is that the Heat will be a bull’s-eye for criticism, and easy for the competition to root against. This is something Wade addressed in an article — one in which he made an unfortunate comparison between the Heat losing a couple of games in a row and the collapse of the World Trade Center.

“We enjoy the bull’s-eye,” Wade said. “Plus, there’s going to be times when we lose 2-3 games in a row, and it seems like the world has crashed down. You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade is coming down again, but it’s not going to be nothing but a couple of basketball games.”

“The Lakers are still the better team,” one executive said. “The question is, how are those guys [in Miami] going to fit together?”

Wade himself has acknowledged that the Lakers are still the team to beat, which is the respectful way to go about it. The two-time defending champions are simply that until somebody changes that.

But in the end, the pressure will fall on the shoulders of Wade and James. How evenly they share the responsibility and the glory remains to be seen.

As for Jordan, he couldn’t have summed up my feelings any better when it comes to the Miami Big Three — the Dream Team or the Scheme Team, depending on your perspective. One executive scouting Summer League games told me he hadn’t heard Jordan utter those words about Bird and Magic, but he didn’t need to.

“When I brought the subject up, he was just typing on his Blackberry,” the executive said. “And he was just shaking his head; you know, like when you’re disappointed? He didn’t say anything. He was just pecking away on his Blackberry”.

prma