Despite a heartwarming Nike commercial celebrating the return of LeBron James to Cleveland that aired in the arena prior to the Cavaliers opening game against the New York Knicks, the Cavs lost the game, 95-90, as James played miserably in his homecoming. The Cleveland star had 17 points, but he shot 5-of-15 and had eight turnovers.
The commercial shown on the scoreboard, called “Together,” shows James, the rest of the Cavaliers, and what appears to be the whole city of Cleveland celebrating James’ return. James thunders, “Every single night, every single practice, every single game we gotta give it everything we got, because they’re gonna ride with us. Everything we do on this floor is because of this city. We owe them.” James follows his speech by leading his team in repeating, “Hard work, together,” as residents of the city are shown joining the chant.
James shot 1-of-9 from the field in the first half, at one point firing a pass intended for Irving into the seats. He said later, “I was throwing passes where I thought some of my teammates were. Those things will come.” James said he hadn’t been nervous, allowing, “I didn’t press. I didn’t do much.” He added, “It was a special night. I’m glad it was great, but I’m also glad it’s over.”
Despite 22 points from Kyrie Irving and 19 points and 14 rebounds from new Cavalier Kevin Love, it was Carmelo Anthony who starred in the game, scoring 25 points and nailing a jump shot with James defending him to make it 92-87. The Knicks rebounded from an opening-game loss in New York against Chicago Wednesday night.
Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire was impressed by the over 20,000-strong welcome for James, saying, “It was pretty incredible. I haven’t seen anything like that before. The city was on fire. It was great to kind of spoil the excitement — great for us.” The crowd gave James a standing ovation before the game; thousands more filled the streets near Quicken Loans Arena to laud the returning star. Among the attendees at the game were pop star Justin Bieber, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel, and R&B artist Usher.
“You’ve got to give them credit,” Irving said. “They made tough shots.” James added, “It was one game, and we’ve got to learn from it.”