Keeping Score

Miss Me? LeBron James Torches Cleveland

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The fans booed LeBron James last night in Cleveland.

Written profanity was disallowed in the arena, so fans held up clever signs, like “Quitness” and “Witless,” both plays on the “We Are All Witnesses,” tagline Nike created for the self-proclaimed King. A bunch of fans wore shirts that said “The Lying King,” and others were more direct, chanting “Akron Hates You” at LeBron (he grew up there).

(See the psychology behind booing LeBron.)

As expected, when LeBron and his Miami Heat visited Cleveland for the first time, Cavs fans, still stung that James left town after starring for the team for seven years, let off their steam. No dimwits threw anything at him: give Cleveland credit for being angry, pained, yet restrained.

Even when he thoroughly humiliated them. If you’re going to heckle a guy incessantly, you’d like to think you can mess with his head a little bit. But James was completely unfazed by all the noise, as he scored 38 points – including 24 in the third quarter – during Miami’s 118-90 blowout victory over Cleveland.

(Will LeBron James be TIME’s Person of the Year?)

Miami jumped out to a 59-40 lead, and in that third quarter, James toyed with his old team. Cleveland’s defense was pathetic, and during one fast break, Dwyane Wade – the man most responsible for LeBron’s defection, since James seemed so keen to play with him – tossed an alley-oop to James; talk about salting the wound. At another point, LeBron decided to try a circus shot, as if he were playing a video game: he took a few dribbles into the corner, and tossed up an impossible fadeaway jumper. Swish. James landed near his former team’s bench, and flexed. Miss me?

James could have finished with 50, but he sat the entire fourth quarter. Thank goodness this game is over. The novelty of seeing James in a Heat uniform, playing against the Cavs in Cleveland, is gone: from this point out, we don’t have to treat Miami’s games against a bad Cleveland team like the NBA playoffs.

As LeBron put on his show, the arena turned silent. Anger could only turn to awe. And Cleveland got a taste of what it’s missing.

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