Yesterday’s much-anticipated Christmas Day matchup between the Cavaliers and the Heat marked the first time LeBron James has returned to Miami since making the very public move back to Cleveland over the 2014 offseason.
Drawing both boos and cheers on his return, the four-time MVP winner was honored during the first quarter with a video tribute chronicling his time in Miami, and received a standing ovation from the crowd following the remembrance.
Not surprisingly, the Heat came out on top with a 101-91 win led by Dwyane Wade’s game-high 31 points, 24 of which were scored in the first half. For his part, James led his team with 30 points, four rebounds, and eight assists but stumbled frequently at the free throw line, sinking just 10 of his 18 chances from behind the line. Notably, the loss was the first game for the Cavaliers without their integral center, Anderson Varejao, following his season-ending injury earlier this week.
Opening up after the game, James admitted that the occasion was “very difficult” given the circumstance of his return and later posted an image of his reunion with close friend Dwayne Wade to his Instagram account.
“It’s tough to play under these circumstances, man,” James said after the game. “You’re so used to playing regular-season games, and then you have to play one like this. Or my first home game, when I went back home (this season), my first home game. So, it’s very difficult.”
“A lot of emotions come back and you know, I spent four years here with those guys, man and some guys are still here, some guys are not here,” he added, touching on the video tribute near the beginning of the game. “We put in a lot of hard work and dedication just to do the best we could.”
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