When LeBron James returns to Miami this afternoon, he is hoping for a better reception than the one he got from Cleveland four years ago, reports Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group. James became a villain in Ohio after leaving the Cavaliers in 2010 to join the Heat. Now that he has returned to the Cavs, he hopes fans in Miami will be understanding. “I’ve got nothing but love for Miami,” James said. “Regardless of what happens, it won’t change how I feel about that city and the organization.” After leading the Heat to four straight NBA Finals, James opted out of his contract and accepted a two-year deal last summer to go back to Cleveland.
Here’s more from the Eastern Conference:
- Bitterness isn’t a quality that fits South Florida, opines Ethan Skolnick of Bleacher Report. The columnist urges Heat fans to be gracious hosts to James and to remember the unprecedented heights he helped the franchise reach. He also credits James for being willing to leave the Cavaliers in 2010 and gamble on building a winner in Miami.
- Guarding James was one of the NBA challenges Magic rookie Aaron Gordon was looking forward to, but Josh Robbins of The Orlando Sentinel reports that will have to wait. Gordon fractured the fifth metatarsal in his left foot in November and will miss his 21st consecutive game when the Cavaliers come to Orlando Friday night. He was recently able to shed his walking boot and got medical permission to shoot set shots, but not jumpers. “My team needs me, and I can help my team,” Gordon said. “But I have two shoes on now. I’m not wearing a boot.”
- Phil Jackson offered some encouragement to Knicks fans on an otherwise gloomy Christmas, writes Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com. On a day where the Knicks were embarrassed by the Wizards on national television to fall to 5-26, Jackson sent out a pair of tweets promising 2015 will be a better year. Immediate help from the trade market seems unlikely, as Jackson has said he will only bring in players who fit New York’s long-term plans. So Begley said the team’s main hope is the draft, where the Knicks currently are in line for the second overall pick, as our Reverse Standings show.