LeBron James might not feel the need to publicly thank Heat fans for the four years he spent playing for their team, but that didn’t stop the fans for thanking him with a standing ovation before Thursday’s 101-91 loss at Miami.
James was the first Cleveland Cavaliers player introduced by the Miami P.A. announcer and the majority of the crowd cheered for the four-time MVP.
James called the game “very” emotional.
“It’s tough to play under these circumstances, man,” James said afterward. “You’re so used to playing regular-season games, and then you have to play one like this. Or my first home game, when I went back home (this season), my first home game. So, it’s very difficult.”
Once the game began, fans would boo when James touched the ball, but they went back to cheering when a tribute video for James was shown during a timeout with 5:44 remaining in the first quarter.
The video was an all-encompassing look at James’ four years in Miami, from on-court highlights, to clips from the postgame interview antics that he, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade became known for, to James’ charity work, to even glimpses of James’ Nike commercials and the Heat team’s “Harlem Shake” locker room dance that went viral.
“It’s cool,” James said of the video tribute. “A lot of emotions come back and you know, I spent four years here with those guys, man and some guys are still here, some guys are not here. We put in a lot of hard work and dedication just to do the best we could.”
The crowd broke out into a loud standing ovation and James acknowledged the applause, raising his right arm to wave as he walked back onto the court from the bench following the timeout.