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Jim Brown honored by LeBron James acknowledgement before Game 3

Jim Brown called LeBron James' acknowledgement of him prior to Game 3 of the NBA Finals "one of my favorite sports moments of all time."

As James went out for the opening tip Tuesday night, he paused and bowed to Brown, who was sitting courtside at Quicken Loans Arena.

"It was an honor for this young man to pay tribute to an old soldier," Brown told the Northeast Ohio Media Group on Wednesday.

Brown almost seemed surprised by the gesture. He responded by putting his two index fingers together and pointing back at James, with a small smile on his face.

"It was one of my favorite sports moments of all time," Brown said. "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."

James called the gesture "impromptu."

"What he means to this city, what he means to this community, what he means to sports and to myself is unprecedented, so it was great to see him there," the Cavs star said.

It was a special moment for Cleveland professional sports, with the city's greatest present-day athlete acknowledging its greatest from the past.

James studies sports history and knows he likely is in an elite group of Cleveland greats that includes Brown, Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham and Cleveland Indians pitcher Bob Feller and outfielder Tris Speaker.

James has spoken often about the 51-year title drought in Cleveland; the Browns won the city's last championship in 1964.

"What he means not only to sports but to the outlier of figures during his time -- himself, Lew Alcindor, Bill Russell, Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali -- those guys meant something more than just the sport that they were actually competing in," James said. "And I think we all should know those stories and them setting foundations for guys coming after them all the way to this point where I am today."

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LeBron James explains why he decided to salute football Hall of Famer Jim Brown prior to Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

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