LeBron James “will never forget Dec. 2, 2010,” the day he returned to Cleveland for the first time as an opposing player.
Cavs fans, still devastated by The Decision to take his talents to South Beach, showered James with invective and some even hurled batteries onto the court (spooking NBA security to the point they considered calling the game early.)
New story w/ @WindhorstESPN: Eight years ago LeBron returned to Cleveland for the first time with the Heat in a game that was so intense, NBA security considered calling it before the final buzzer. Here, many of the parties involved recall that night https://t.co/i1VdNgmYPy
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 21, 2018
LeBron led the visiting Miami Heat with 38 points on 15-of-25 shooting in a decisive 118-90 victory; he’ll be suiting up against his old team tonight as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers.
“It was something that nobody had ever seen before. Everybody knew the emotions behind it. Cable television made sure that they captured every moment. It was an eerie feeling, just going back. It was an uncomfortable feeling going back because of the situation. And I knew how up in bunches everybody was.
“The only thing I was talking about was, ‘How can I play well?’ I wanted to play well. I wanted to play well more than anything. I knew that I had a group of guys that were going to ride for me that night, no matter what. That was just the makeup of our club. I wasn’t worried about that. But it was an eerie night.
“Once I hit the court, I’m in my safe haven. Once I hit the court in warm-ups, you could hear the boos. It was probably the loudest I’ve ever heard boos in my life. I felt the animosity. I felt the scrutiny. But once the ball was tipped, I’m in my safe haven. There’s nothing that can stop me from trying to be the best I can be.
“I mean, I will never forget it. I’ll never forget both instances. I will never forget Dec. 2, 2010, and I will never forget us winning the championship in 2016 and that parade. Those are two things that will always be instilled in me for the rest of my career. It’s both. There’s a negative side and there’s a positive side to it. It doesn’t stop me from pushing forward, but it’s something that I definitely, I don’t forget.”