For the second time in his future Hall-of-Fame career, LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency as he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this past summer.
However, unlike James’ first return with the Miami Heat back in 2010, the 33-year-old received a standing ovation from the fans and tribute video from the organization.
As James will one day reflect on his 11 seasons with the Cavaliers, he was determined to stay in the present and help the Lakers finish their three-game road trip on a high note. He scored a game-high 32 points in comeback victory that gave the Lakers a winning record on the trip.
Following the Lakers’ 109-105 win, James discussed the difficult situation his old teammates are now in with the worst record in the NBA at 2-14, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I mean, listen, any time you’ve got a group of guys you’ve spent so much time with both on and off the floor, and they’re going through what they’re going through right now, you definitely feel for that. There’s champions over there, guys that have been to the Finals, a lot of guys that have worked their tail off to get to where they are in their career. You never want to see your friends be in the situation that they’re in. But as professionals, they’re still giving it all they’ve got, as they showed tonight.”
In James’ second stint with the Cavaliers, they won one championship in four consecutive NBA Finals appearances. While the Kyrie Irving trade to the Boston Celtics created a lot of roster turnover, 11 players still remain from the 2017-18 season.
Of course, that group, even with James, was swept by the Golden State Warriors in the Finals.
As the Cavaliers have been forced to rebuild, the Lakers are looking to end their five-year playoff drought. After a appearing to ease his way into the season a bit, James has recently provided an uptick in production.