In his much-anticipated homecoming, LeBron James scored a season-high 38 points. He made 10 field goals beyond 15 feet, two shy of his career high in a game. Entering play Thursday, James was averaging just 2.8 field goals made per game beyond 15 feet.
The 24 third-quarter points by LeBron James matched his single-game high for points in a quarter and tied a franchise record.
James also did not commit a turnover, the most points he's ever scored in a game without committing a turnover. He’s the second player this season to score at least 38 points without committing a turnover. On Nov. 1, Luol Deng scored 40 against the Trail Blazers without turning the ball over.
From the Elias Sports Bureau: This was only the fourth time in NBA history that a player scored at least 38 points in his first game against a former team. The other players to do that were John Williamson against the Pacers in 1978 (38 points), Danny Ainge against Boston in 1989 (39) and Stephon Marbury against Minnesota in 2000 (39).
More From the Elias Sports Bureau: James shot 15-for-25 from the floor, the seventh game of his career in which he took at least 25 shots from the field and connected on at least 60 percent of them.
Just when Cleveland fans thought LeBron had tormented them in every possible way, 'Bronny Bravo saves his best game of the season and one of the best outside shooting games of his career for his return. In doing so, he created a new category of revenge game: "This is for making me feel like a douche for screwing you over." It's like beating a dog for no reason and then taking it outside to rub its nose in its own feces.
Hell, he couldn't even keep himself from taunting the Cavaliers bench...earning him a nice little "shut the [world Kevin Garnett loves to say] up" from a member of the coaching staff:
To be frank, I hated watching this game. Hated it. To me, it was depressing.
See, LeBron James -- even if you thought he was a douche -- still represented everything people love about sports: The hometown hero playing like a bad motherfucker and transforming a perennial underdog into a championship contending powerhouse. Even if you hated all the fake pre-game picture shows, the in-game dancing, the post-game third-person soliloquies -- and let's face it, we all did -- it was still a great story for a sadsack city that has had very little to cheer for over the years.
True story: My second Mardi Gras back in 2006, I was standing in line somewhere to use the bathroom when the guy in front of me started making small talk. After he told me he was from Cleveland, all I said was: "LeBron James, huh?" And he replied, "Yep. Best thing that ever happened to Cleveland."
That was always the joke, right? But people in Cleveland really believed it. And then , with one ill-conceived Decision, LeBron became everything people hate about sports: The hometown hero turning heel, taking the seemingly easy way out and chasing fortune and glory elsewhere. It wasn't the first time something like this had happened. Wilt Chamberlain had a pretty nasty divorce in Philly (although at least The Stilt led the Sixers to a title). Of course, King Crab took it to the next (unprecedented) level by announcing his screw job on an hour-long informercial. And still later he made a shoe commercial trying to shame people for hating him for being such a dick.
And you know what made all the booing so depressing? When somebody leaves you -- a girlfriend, a spouse, a sports hero, whatever -- they can leave behind one of two kinds of hate. There's the "I hate you but I'm better off without you" and there's the "I hate you and I will never, ever, in any way be better off without you."
We know which of these hates Clevelanders are feeling, don't we?
Think about it. Luck and lottery balls gave LeBron James to the Cavaliers. When is that going to happen again? When are the Cavs going to win the number one overall draft pick in a year when a "could be the greatest player of all time" talent is available? What are the odds? Pretty freaking long. And that's the way it's going to have to happen, because no amount of money is going to bring a superduperstar to Cleveland. And that has nothing to do with Dan Gilbert's infamous Comic Sans Letter of Doom.
Superstars don't want to play in Cleveland. Nobody really wants to play in Cleveland.
We’ve discussed this here before. It's hard to win a championship. Typically, you need a Top 5 Guy to be The Man, a Top 10 or 15 Guy to be The Sidekick, several efficient roleplayers who don't mind selflessly killing themselves on the boards or on defense or in whatever role they're asked to perform, and a bench that goes at least three or four solid players deep. Oh, and you need good coaching.
Tell me: How in the name of Spider-Man's balls is that EVER going to happen in Cleveland now that LeBron's gone? Let me put it this way: There's a better chance that I'll become Kobe Bryant's biggest fan before the Cavaliers win an NBA title.
So Clevelanders have to endure the harsh but inescapable reality that the best basketball they will ever see has come and gone. They will never see or experience anything like it again. And it didn't just fizzle out with the passing of years. It was cruelly ripped away from them after a couple seasons of being RIGHT THERE.
Isiah's Pistons were RIGHT THERE for a few years but kept getting knocked off by the Celtics and Lakers. They endured and eventually won a couple titles. Jordan's Bulls were RIGHT THERE for a few years but kept getting knocked off by the Pistons. They endured and eventually won six titles. These things are legendary. But being RIGHT THERE wasn't enough for the King of the Nazgul. Why overcome when you can bolt?
The only legend LeBron left behind in Cleveland was a sense of betrayal and hatred unlike anything the league has ever seen. It's a sad saga.
But hey, go Heat, right? They kicked the crap out of a bunch of disparate roleplayers who were assembled for the express purpose of servicing LeBron and all his Royal Whims. Surprise, surprise, they're falling apart without him.
And even now, LeBron won't just say the two little words that could put salve in an ugly, open would. He won't say "I'm sorry." Even if only for how he hurt the city that loved him.
Said LeBron: "I don't want to apologize. I think my intentions were not to hurt anyone. My intentions were solely on kids during that whole process. I always say, decisions I make, I live with them. There's always ways you can correct them or ways you can do them better. At the end of the day, I live with them. I'm satisfied and happy right now."
Trust me, it doesn't come off any better if you hear it spoken out loud. Trust me.
His intentions were solely on kids during that whole process? Was he being serious? What in the Nine Hells does that even mean? Does even LeBron know? And why can't he just own up? Why can't he just say, "I'm sorry, Cleveland. Not for leaving to follow my dreams, but for how I did it, for hurting you?" Would it damage his ego that much to just throw those long-suffering people a bone? It wouldn't erase all the hate and bad feelings, but it might give Clevelanders just enough satisfaction that they could start moving on.
But nope. LeBron doesn't give. He takes. Whatever. I'm over it and him.
The Clevaland Cavaliers: Not for the giant bitch slap they received...but for all the fraternizing, laughing, joking, etc. they did with LeBron at various points throughout the night. I thought something vital in Reggie Miller was going to explode. Yeah, I get they're all still friends with him or whatever, but they kind of owed it to the fans to dis him for at least one night.
Derrick Rose, quote machine: From ESPNChicago via Basketbawful reader Phil:
When asked if he would be watching James' much-anticipated return to Cleveland, Bulls All-Star point guard Derrick Rose responded this way.
"Probably not," Rose said. "I've got my second season of 'Dexter' so I'm good."
The Golden State Warriors: Okay, if you don't already love Steve Nash, here's yet another of the many reasons you should (via Basketbawful reader Business Time):
Not sure there's much to say about this one. Both teams suck on defense and toight the Warriors sucked worse. They let the Suns shoot 55 percent from the field and run out for 24 fast break points. I will say Jason Richardson's 25-point effort (on 10-for-15 shooting) against his old team was totally overshadowed by the Passion of Cleveland. Of course, the circumstances are radically different.
Said Richardson: "I'm used to playing here. The fans, every time I come, it's a standing ovation when they announce my name. They get me up. I played here for six years, and there's familiarity. I had some great times here. It's a great place to play."
I also have to say it cracks me up that Earl freaking Barron is starting ahead of Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick.
Oh, anyway, back to the Warriors. This little excerpt from the AP recap pretty much sums up the problems this team -- which has lost four straight at home and seven of eight games overall -- are having:
Ellis missed a pair of free throws with 3:16 left, which he said was the turning point of the game.
"If I hit those, we would have been down just one," he said. "We made some mistakes but it was a great game and we gave ourselves a chance to win."
Warriors point guard Stephen Curry missed time in the first half when he was poked in the eye.
"That slowed me down," Curry said. "I was initiating the offense well and getting people involved. It just took me a while to get back."
Notice how both guys -- Golden State's top two players -- identified offensive problems that led to the loss? Memo to the Warriors: When you give up 107 points on 55 percent shooting, your problems are on defense, not offense.
Chris's One-Line lackluster TNT Thursday Lacktion Report: Zydrunas Ilgaukas countered two boards in 16:38 with 3 fouls for a 3:2 Voskuhl.