There was an assassin’s look in Michael Jordan’s eyes, a frightening laser focus, as he stood outside the Bulls locker room furiously chewing gum moments before the start of Game 7 of the 1992 Eastern Conference semifinals against the Knicks at old Chicago Stadium. Anyone who glued his eyes to Jordan right then and there knew the Knicks had no chance against the defending champs.

Jordan scored 42 points in 42 minutes and led the Bulls to a 110-81 romp and eventually his second ring.

What we seem to be witnessing now is the final stage of the evolution of LeBron James into a stone-cold killer, his closing argument against the prosecution’s case he is lacking in the requisite killer instinct that place Jordan and Kobe Bryant in a league of their own.

James has stepped on jugulars from time to time, but as he enters his prime, you can expect it on a more consistent basis, likely next on display again Wednesday night at American Airlines Arena with the Nets on a respirator.

James has always been able to beat you in an unprecedented variety of ways, but falling short in the areas of mercilessness and remorselessness have helped keep him from being placed on the pedestal with Jordan and Bryant even as he begins chasing a third championship in a row that would leave him two behind Bryant and three behind Jordan.

James’ 49-point explosion Monday night in Brooklyn was the stuff legends are made of in a game he identified as a must win, and then refused to let his team lose by imposing his will on the night.

It was telling in this regard: LeBron remains hungry for his third ring every bit as much as he was for his first. The ferociousness of his attack mode from start to finish that left Barclays Center in awe and the Nets in ruins and all the basketball world talking about him and marveling at his genius, offered a hint that maybe it is a magnificent obsession for him.

Only nitpickers who won’t forgive him for The Decision will point out his bloodthirsty predecessors never would have been schmoozing while on the court with Jay Z and Beyonce early in the game.
Dwyane Wade may have had that killer instinct first, but all that matters is James seems to have it now in spades — a scary proposition when you are already the best player on the planet.