LOS ANGELES: LeBron James led the Cleveland Cavaliers in a season-opening rout of the New York Knicks on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) as the vaunted Golden State Warriors super-team suffered a resounding first night thrashing.
James notched a triple-double as Cleveland trounced the new-look Knicks 117-88 on a night when the Cavs were formally presented with their diamond-encrusted 2015-2016 championship rings.
A festive atmosphere inside the Quicken Loans Arena was heightened by the fact that Cleveland’s baseball team, the Indians, were hosting — and beating — the Chicago Cubs in the World Series Opener also Tuesday.
News of the Indians’ opening runs against the Cubs was greeted with deafening cheers and chants of “Let’s Go Tribe!” throughout the game.
James, who returned to the Cavaliers in 2014 on a mission to lead his hometown team to NBA glory, addressed the home crowd in the pre-match ceremonies.
“If you’re not from here, live here, play here, or get yourself to Cleveland, then it makes no sense for you to live at this point,” James said.
“Cleveland against the world!”
James, who finished with 19 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists, later spoke of his pride at being able to celebrate the Cavs crown with the city’s fans.
“It was a great moment, to be able to relive our accomplishment from last year one more time, something that’s always going to be with us. It was an unbelievable atmosphere tonight,” he said.
“We want to keep our fans on cloud 20. If we can do that we’ve done our job.”
But while the Cavs reflected on a solid night’s work, the Knicks were sent back to the drawing board. Having invested heavily in bringing 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose and Chicago teammate Joakim Noah to the club in the close season, the Knicks are hoping to mount a serious challenge in the Eastern Conference this season.
Rose however lamented the New Yorkers’ lack of a mean streak after the blowout.