LeBron James and the Miami Heat it was for four years in the NBA, with the superstar leading the franchise to four straight finals while winning two of them. All that is firmly in the history books now, and LeBron James will enter Miami not as a part of the Heat, but as a Cleveland Cavalier, all ready to trump his former side on Christmas Day.
There could not have been a better marquee Christmas Day game than this one -- LeBron is arguably the biggest name in the NBA at the moment, and after building a dream team alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh at Miami, the superstar decided to go back home to Cleveland in the offseason in his quest to win a title, or three, with the Cavs.
LeBron knows all about playing against his former team of course, having done it with the Heat against Cleveland, but this homecoming will be different -- much less hostile, and a lot more welcoming, or at least that is what he will hope.
"To say I haven't thought about going back, I would be lying," James said was quoted as saying by ESPN just prior to boarding the plane to Miami. "It's going to be great to be back in that building around those unbelievable fans and the memories will definitely come back, being a part of the organization for four years."
Just like Miami were the team to beat with James at the helm, now the Cleveland Cavaliers (17-10) will go into the AmericanAirlines Arena as the firm favourites against Miami, who are struggling at 13-16, with their home form woeful at 5-10.
While it will feel weird for everyone, Wade believes that extra awkwardness has gone with the wind owing to a preseason game the two teams played in Brazil before the start of the regular season.
"We already played each other," Wade said. "The NBA messed up on that. That whole weirdness, awkwardness that it could be, that's out the window."
While everyone is talking about LeBron James and his return to Miami for the first time since re-signing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, Udonis Haslem, who knows a thing or two about playing for his home team, insisted when that ball gets thrown up by the referee, it will be just another NBA game, with both teams looking for a W.
"It ain't about Bron," Haslem said. "It ain't about beating Cleveland because he left to go to Cleveland. It's about the Miami Heat against the Cleveland Cavaliers."
And just what kind of reception can James expect in Miami? "I don't really get involved in what to expect," said LeBron. "My job is to go down there and win a basketball game and live in the moment."
There certainly will be quite a few moments in those 48 minutes of basketball at the AmericanAirlines Arena on Christmas Day.
Where to Watch Live
Five games are scheduled for Christmas Day, with the first game set to be held at Madison Square Garden when the New York Knicks host the Washington Wizards at 12 pm ET (10.30 pm IST, 5 pm GMT). Viewers in US can catch the first game on ESPN, with the live streaming option on Watch ESPN.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs San Antonio (2.30 pm ET, 1 am IST, 7.30 pm GMT) and Cleveland Cavaliers vs Miami Heat will be shown live on ABC in the US. The option to live stream is on ABC Go.
The final two games of Christmas -- LA Lakers vs Chicago Bulls (8 pm ET, 6.30 am IST, 1 am GMT) and Golden State Warriors vs LA Clippers (10.30 pm ET, 9 am IST, 3.30 am GMT) -- will be telecast live in the US on TNT. Viewers can also watch the games live on TNT Overtime.
Audience in India can watch all the games, including the big one, on Sony Six, with the live streaming option on Livsports.
Viewers around the world, including India, USA and UK, can also catch all the games via live streaming online on NBA Live.