James commands more attention than anyone in sports not simply because he is the world’s best basketball player. It’s also because the storylines around him never stay the same. One day, he can’t win the big one and the next he can’t lose. One day, he can’t hit the last shot and the next he can’t miss. The narratives -- a modern catchphrase that seemed to be coined with him in mind -- constantly shift under his Nikes. All summer, James was cast as the spotless homecoming king who could do no wrong, a role he filled with aplomb. But, realistically, it would only last until the first bad loss.
Carmelo Anthony hits dagger to spoil LeBron James' homecomingby Ben GolliverOver the past half-century, Cleveland has become intimately accustomed to disappointment, but not even the locals could fathom a newly formed super team dropping a home game on Opening Night to a Knicks squad starting Quincy Acy and Shane Larkin. The Cavaliers spent three months working themselves into a lather for this day; the Knicks hobbled in after a 24-point home loss to theBulls the night before. James tossed the powder in the air. The crowd sang along with Usher to the national anthem. A 25,000-square foot banner was unfurled at Ontario and Huron. East 4th was as jammed as Bourbon St. The whole scene felt like a set-up for the homecoming king to post a triple-double and the Cavs to roll by 30.
“It was fun,” James said, “while it lasted.”
• SI's predictions for LeBron James' first season back in ClevelandIn sports, unlike advertising, there is no script, and the Knicks ruined a great party with a shocking 95-90 win. James did not play a good game or even an average one. He made 5 of 15 shots, committed eight turnovers, and only found easy baskets when he was cherry picking Kevin Love outlets. He threw a pass into the seats when Kyrie Irving cut inside. He fouled Carmelo Anthony taking a three. He scrapped with Jason Smith of all people. Selecting a James highlight is hard, besides the lay-up he sank over Anthony, while being dragging down by the jersey.
“Emotions are going to run,” James said. “The crowd was excited, we were excited, everyone was excited. I tried to focus.” He acknowledged no nerves, but in the tunnel before warm-ups, he hopped up and down like a frenzied prizefighter. He let out an impromptu roar in the pre-game layup line. He tilted his head to the rafters before introductions. If he wasn’t overwhelmed, he was at least moved.
LeBlog: The King's return to Cleveland“Play the game, not the occasion,” cautioned David Blatt, Cleveland’s rookie coach. But, at morning shoot-around, James called the game “probably one of the biggest sporting events that’s up there ever.” He built it into something even more significant than it was. James attributed his struggles to the Cavaliers search for chemistry, a reasonable explanation, considering how quickly this roster was slapped together. In the first half, the Cavs moved the ball well, though at times they over-passed. In the second half, the offense stalled, as stars