The return did not quite pan out as expected, and now LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will look for better success on the road when they travel to the United Center to take on the Chicago Bulls in the NBA.
James struggled on his return to his home state and team, managing just 17 points on 5-15 shooting, while also suffering eight turnovers in a 95-90 loss to the New York Knicks.
"I didn't press. I didn't do much," said a disappointed James, who seemed overwhelmed by the incredible support for the opening game of the season. "It was a special night. I'm glad it was great, but I'm also glad it's over."
Waiting in the wings next is the Chicago Bulls, fresh from their thrashing of the team that spoilt James' homecoming – the Knicks.
Chicago eased past New York 104-80 in their opening game a couple of days ago, and with a healthy Derrick Rose now having Pau Gasol for company, the Bulls do look like being one of the biggest contenders for the Eastern Conference title alongside the Cleveland Cavaliers.
For the Cavs, it will be about keeping it simple and not letting the situation overwhelm them. For that, playing away from home will certainly help, and LeBron will certainly look forward to a more charged-down atmosphere even if he will be facing the team which has stopped him best over the past few seasons.
James, though, will not be able to do it on his own, and will need help from the other big two players in the roster, with Kevin Love finishing with 19 points and 14 rebounds on his debut for the Cleveland Cavaliers, while Kyrie Irving was the top scorer with 22.
Irving, however, took a bit of the blame for the defeat. "For us, it's just a better communication between me and Coach [David] Blatt," Irving was quoted as saying by ESPN. "That's basically what it boils down to.
"I'm his point guard out there, and some things that I see, you know, he has plays in his mind and I have plays in my mind as well.
"We're just going to continue to grow. It's a process. Within practice, we kind of switch on and off [calling the plays], but for us it's about what's going on out there on the court and what he sees and what I see, and hopefully we can get on the same page pretty soon."
There were no such issues for the Chicago Bulls in their first game, as Rose put in a pretty solid effort of 13 points and five assists, while Gasol added 21 points. Taj Gibson was the standout performer for the Bulls, coming off the bench to score 22 points on 10 of 12 shooting, pointing to the fact that Rose will not be overburdened this season.
"I think it's a lot of pressure off [Rose's] shoulders because we have, I think, a variety of weapons, so he doesn't have that pressure on himself to be able to score and force things," said Gasol.
Where to Watch Live
The game is set for an 8 pm ET (5.30 am IST, 12 am GMT (Saturday) start, with live coverage in the USA on ESPN. Viewers can also catch all the action via live streaming online on Watch ESPN.
Sony Six will provide the live coverage in India, while BT Sport will show the game live on TV in the UK. Audience in the UK can also live stream the action on Watch BT Sport or with the BT Sport Online app.
International viewers, including India, can watch all the action by live streaming on NBA Online.