A new chapter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ famous story began in Portland on Thursday night, as LeBron James made his debut in purple and gold.
The world’s best player chose the Lakers for what will likely be his final destination this summer and, as such, expectations at the Staples Center have increased 10-fold.
James has reached the NBA finals eight years in a row with a combination of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat, winning on three occasions.
Here, Press Association Sport looks at James’ debut.
So, is the Lake Show back?
Not quite. LeBron lost his debut match for Cleveland (twice) and Miami and this made it four from four. Portland are a good side, especially at home, and in Damian Lillard have an MVP-standard player. He scored 28 points on the night and the Trail Blazers ensured the Lake Show may have to wait until Sunday’s mouthwatering match-up with Houston.
But it started well?
It did. LeBron’s first two buckets as a Laker were trademark slam dunks. We can expect to see plenty more of these over the coming weeks.
On the whole, how did LeBron play?
Very well, as usual, barring a rogue pass out of bounds. A stat-line of 26 points, 12 rebounds and six assists it just a taster of what is to come. His points tally was a second-highest on Lakers debut in history.
What do the Lakers need more of?
Three-point shooting would be a good start. The NBA is rich of teams who make threes for fun, the Golden State Warriors being the benchmark. LA made six all night off 30 attempts and if they fix that, improvements will come. Defensively too James will need help, being the only Laker in double figures for rebounds.
So overall, work to do?
Of course, but that goes for every team after 10 games, let alone one. However, LeBron seems to have settled into Laker life well, supporting his new largely youthful team-mates throughout. Thursday night was always going to be a frenzied occasion and, though the spotlight will remain firmly on, the coming weeks should allow James and his side to settle down.
What did they say?
Coach Luke Walton was upbeat about his side’s showing, saying: “First game, we will be able to learn a lot. Overall I was happy with the way we played.” On James, he added: “I’m glad he’s on our team, he’s pretty good at the game of basketball! The way he can control and lead is impressive.”