Whenever Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James returns home to play the Cleveland Cavaliers, it’s always an exciting game for him and the fans.
James had two stints with the Cavaliers, leading them to the franchise’s first NBA Championship in 2016 and cementing his legacy as one of greatest players to ever touch a basketball. Even though it’s been years since he left the team that originally selected him No. 1 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft, there is a lot of love for the King in Cleveland.
The Lakers and James faced off against the Cavaliers to kick off their four-game road trip and managed to win a tightly contested game. Both squads were unable to create much separation, and the game came down to the final minutes where either team could have won.
During the television timeout during the first quarter, the Cavaliers paid tribute to James with a touching video on the in-arena jumbotron, via NBA TV:
All love for the King in Cleveland 👑
— NBA TV (@NBATV) November 26, 2023
The video begins with James’ debut in Cleveland against the Sacramento Kings and goes on to show highlights of him reaching several scoring milestones from 5,000 points all the way up to the 30,000 in a Cavaliers jersey. The tribute then goes on to show the night that James broke Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time scoring record against the Oklahoma City Thunder, a momentous occasion for the King and his family.
After the video ended, the in-arena announcer congratulated James on the accomplishment and noted that he scored 23,119 points while he was in Cleveland. The crowd gives James a loud round of applause and he reciprocated the love by raising his hand and gesturing a heart.
After the game, James discussed what Cleveland means to him and how appreciative he is of the love he continues to get when he returns home, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I think for one, you able to come on this floor and obviously keeping the main thing is trying to get a win. We want to continue to get better as a franchise, as Lakers going through this season. But it’s always special to come back here and I felt the feeling of it as well when we went back to Miami just knowing the history. But I think a little more here because I spent 11 years here. I did four years in Miami, but I spent 11 years here and being able to come back after my Miami stint and win a championship here for this franchise, for this city, I think it was like a 52-year drought or something like that in the city of Cleveland for any sports team, I think that was just something I’ll never forget. No matter how old I get, I’ll always remember that moment. So stepping back on the floor is always a pretty cool feeling looking up there and just being a part of pretty much all the banners in this arena. And the No. 1 banner, the one that sits in the middle was that ’16 championship, so that’s pretty cool… It’s very special. To be a kid from Akron, I grew up 30 miles from here. To be able to be drafted here and spend my first seven years here and then come back for four more years and do some special things that the franchise had never seen. When I was drafted, I said I wanted to light this place up like Vegas so I feel like I did a decent job of doing that while I was here for my 11 years.”
It was must have been a special moment for James to be received so warmly by the Cavaliers franchise given all the years and wins he experienced with them. Cleveland will always be grateful for what James did for their sports scene, but now Los Angeles is hoping the future Hall of Famer can lead them to another title.
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