On Monday morning, Burke went through shootaround at AmericanAirlines Arena, under the championship banners James has helped bring to the Miami Heat.
"It's going to be exciting," Burke, the Utah Jazz's rookie point guard, said before his first game against James and the Heat.
The Jazz point guard exchanged text messages during Michigan's run through the NCAA tournament last spring. And before his sophomore year as a Wolverine, Burke attended James' basketball camp, an experience he said helped shape his drive.
"Just work ethic. I think that's the biggest thing [I learned]," he said. "Trying to build that work ethic early on in your career as a pro. That's the biggest thing. He works really hard. That's how he got to the point he's at right now."
James, the league's reigning MVP, said he's watched Burke since he was in the seventh grade and has been proud of his success "even though he went to that M-school."
"To see him be here now in this league where he's always had a passion, always had a dream about being here, I think it's unbelievable," James said.
Rookies in Reno
Rookies Ian Clark and Rudy Gobert each logged more than 30 minutes in their debuts for the NBA Development League's Bakersfield Jam on Sunday. Gobert scored 16 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds. Clark had 14 points and six rebounds.
Jazz coach Ty Corbin called the performances "encouraging." He said he wanted to see Gobert develop more strength and a better feel for the game, and that he wanted to see Clark learn how to find space to get off his jump shot.
The Utah Jazz have gone on a pre-Christmas road trip each season for decades now, and Monday's matchup with the Heat was the first of five road games on the year's trip. On Dec. 23, 1988, under new head coach Jerry Sloan, the Jazz closed out their trip with a 101-80 loss to the Heat, giving the Jazz a 1-5 record on the road trip, and handing the expansion Heat its first home win in franchise history.