LeBron James
LeBron James led the Lakers to a 109-105 win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday night. In this picture, James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers runs on to the court prior to the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, Nov. 21, 2018. Jason Miller/Getty Images

LeBron James led the Los Angeles Lakers to a 109-105 victory over his former team the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night. It was the small forward’s first trip to his hometown team he left as a free agent earlier this summer.

James was skeptical about the reception he would receive on his return to the Quicken Loans Arena, but unlike in 2010 when he received a hostile reception following his departure to the Miami Heat, he was welcomed with a standing ovation from the entire crowd.

The forward’s return was not guaranteed to end in victory as the Cavaliers – the worst team in the NBA this season – who are bottom of the Eastern Conference played probably their best game of the season. The Lakers were down by 11 points at one stage, while they also faced an eight-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

But James was not willing to accept a loss on his return and led the way with 32 points, seven assists and 14 rebounds with 11 points coming in the crucial fourth quarter. The Lakers continued their winning run to make it eight wins in their last 10 and they are now just 1.5 games behind the Golden State Warriors, which is a great effort considering they lost their opening three games of the season.

The three-time NBA champion was ably backed up by the rest of his team with Lonzo Ball ending the night with 15 points, six assists and seven rebounds. The starting lineup apart from James contributed 53 points as they ended their three-game road trip with a win.

The night at the Quicken Loans Arena, however, was all about the return of James. He led the Cavaliers to the NBA title in 2016 – something that he had promised when he returned after his spell with the Heat in 2014. It was the city’s first professional sports championship in over five decades.

James entered the arena to cheers and a standing ovation from the home crowd – but it was commemorated by the franchise when they aired a tribute video midway through the first quarter. It was a video showing the Cleveland legend’s achievements on court and also his contributions off it.

The 33-year-old has contributed massively to help the community in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. He invested heavily in setting up the I Promise School via the LeBron James Family Foundation which is specifically aimed at the at-risk kids in the community.

The Lakers star visited the school he set up earlier this year before the game on Wednesday night – but like he admitted prior to the game – once the whistle was blown his focus was on the game and ensuring his current team continued their winning momentum.