Sports

'A Hero Has Come Back': LeBron Returns to Cleveland, Gets Amazing Welcome from Cavs Fans

LeBron James was treated to a hero’s welcome on his return to Cleveland, with Cavaliers fans cheering him on as if he was still one of their own.

The three-time NBA champion left Ohio for a second time in the summer but the reception at the Quicken Loans Arena couldn’t have been warmer. The Cavs played a minute-long video tribute to LeBron on the giant screen, which ended with the message: "Thank you for what you did on the court [...] but we all know it's bigger than basketball."

A visibly humbled LeBron then pointed towards different sections of the crowd and gestured towards the fans to thank them for their reception.

"We recognize the fact that certainly this is a big night for the city of Cleveland," Cavaliers coach Larry Drew was quoted as saying by ESPN before the game. "Because a hero has come back."

From the moment he stepped onto the court during the pre-game warm-up, LeBron was cheered on by the crowd and he received a roaring ovation when he was introduced in the Los Angeles Lakers’ line-up.

Sean Peebles, the Cavs’ public address announcer, introduced LeBron by welcoming him home.

The treatment the four-time MVP received was a world away from the one that awaited him on his return to Cleveland during his first season with the Miami Heat in 2010.

Back then, LeBron was treated to a cacophony of boos and hostility from the crowd. The reception grew mellower in his next visits to Cleveland as a Heat and if Wednesday night was anything to go by, Cavs fans clearly do not begrudge him moving to the Lakers.

It could hardly be otherwise, given LeBron took Cleveland to four straight NBA Finals in his second spell in Ohio, inspiring the Cavs to their first ever NBA title in 2016.

GettyImages-1064165774 LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers recognizes the fans after the Cleveland Cavaliers honored James during a time-out during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena on November 21 in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason Miller/Getty Images

"I just felt different from the time we landed yesterday," James was quoted as saying by ESPN.

"From the time we landed yesterday, it just felt a different way. I'm a different person. We're all different from eight years ago [when he returned to Cleveland for the first time with Miami], I think, both good and bad.

 "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 to my teammates over these 11 years.”

On the court, LeBron did not let feelings get in the way. The 14-time All-Star scored 32 points in 36 minutes and added 14 rebounds and seven assists as the Lakers won 109-105 to clinch a second consecutive win.

The result saw the 16-time NBA champions improve their record to 10-7 and move up to seventh in the Western Conference standings, while the Cavs remain rooted at the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 2-14 record.

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