A three-game road trip for the Los Angeles Lakers also meant a pair of returns for LeBron James as the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers were the second and third stops. There weren’t any questions over how James would be treated in South Beach.
Sure enough, he was cheered en route to a record-setting performance of 51 points. There was some question heading into Wednesday’s game at Quicken Loans Arena. Though, that was only because of the vitriol James faced in his 2010 homecoming after signing with the Heat.
His departure in free agency this year was much more expected and it came after James delivered on his promise of bringing a championship to Cleveland. Like in Miami on Sunday night, James was welcomed with open arms.
Cavs fans gave him a standing ovation during pregame warmups and cheered for James during lineup introductions. He was also showered with adulation as he walked off the court after scoring 32 points in the Lakers’ win.
In between there was a tribute video that played during a timeout in the first quarter. James caught a glimpse of the ending — he was focused on the play Lakers head coach Luke Walton was drawing up — and he signaled to the fans upon taking the court out of the break.
James enjoyed the overall experience of being back in Cleveland and spoke fondly of the moment he shared with Cavaliers fans, via Spectrum SportsNet
“I appreciate these fans just as much as they appreciate me. Every single night we stepped on the floor, they always showed their appreciation to not only myself but my teammates for 11 years. Especially those last four years, those championship runs we were making. That was just my salute to them appreciating what I was able to accomplish with my teammates and coaching staff.”
James appeared to be much more at ease as a visitor this time around with the Lakers than when he and the Heat played in a hostile environment. He was aggressive from tipoff, instrumental during a second-quarter run and again late in the fourth.
With road games against his former teams out of the way, James can now solely focus on the Lakers without the possibility of distraction.