LeBron James was grateful for the welcome he received in his return to Cleveland.
James posted 32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Lakers to a 109-105 win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday.
The Cavs, the team he led to the championship in 2016, played a heartfelt tribute to James during a timeout in the first quarter.
James, whose Lakers improved to 10-7 with their narrow win, thanked the fans for the ovation.
“My 11 years I played for this franchise, I just tried to give everything I could, both on the court and off the court, represent this city, represent this community with the utmost respect, be a role model off the floor, be a leader on the floor,” he told ESPN.
“To come back and get the reception I got, it means a lot to not only myself but for my family and my friends that were here and my family that’s back home in LA as well.”
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) November 22, 2018
The Lakers needed until the final seconds to overcome the Cavs for their eighth win in their past 10 games.
James praised his team’s improved defense late and said they were still improving.
“We ramped up our defense in that fourth quarter. When we got stops, we got rebounds and then we got to the free-throw line. We started putting pressure on their defense,” he said.
“We knew we were going to get their best shot, we knew the fans were going to be ecstatic because we were in town, I’m in town, so they played a heck of a game but we kept our composure.
“We’re a young group, we’re a young group but we’re getting better.”
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) November 22, 2018