Thursday, October 30, 2014


LeBron James woke up Thursday, drove north on I-77 to the Cleveland Cavaliers' Quicken Loans Arena and participated in the team's shootaround.

But this was not an ordinary shootaround or any ordinary day. Something larger was afoot, and James knew it. James marks his official return to the Cavaliers Thursday night against the New York Knicks, and the excitement was everywhere.

Cavs-apalooza arrived in Cleveland Thursday: a larger-than-usual media contingent, including TNT and ESPN outdoor studios in multiple downtown locations; workers were almost finished hanging on new giant James banner on the downtown Sherwin-Williams building and the launch of James' new Nike commercial, bringing the city of Cleveland together; the inordinate number of fans on East Fourth Street before noon.

Usher will sing the national anthem, Kendrick Lamar and Imagine Dragons are scheduled to perform outside of the arena and comedian Kevin Hart plans to make an appearance. Jay-Z, Beyonce and Justin Beiber sightings are lighting up Twitter.

No stranger to big moments, James understands the importance of today's game.

"By hearing all the noise, it's a pretty huge day," James said. "I understand how much I mean to this team, to this franchise, to this city, to this state. It's a different feeling. But I'm still calm and excited at the same time because it's the first game of the season.

"Once the hours and minutes countdown to game time … the excitement will begin."

James said he spent Wednesday night watching NBA games.

"I love the game of the basketball so it was great to see so many teams playing, and I knew it was our time after last night," he said. "None of us should take this moment for granted. It's one of the biggest sports events ever. SportsCenter is here. A lot of people here. SportsCenter would never come to Cleveland other than this."

Game time is 8 p.m. ET with TNT televising the game, ESPN doing the national radio broadcast and nearly 100 reporters documenting the experience.
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