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Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James has praised the Boston Celtics fans ahead of making his return to the TD Garden on Friday night.
James played his final game for the Cavs in his first stint with the franchise in Boston, during which he had a triple-double in Game 6 of the 2010 Eastern Conference semi-finals.
The 29-year-old had 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists, but he also missed 13 of his 21 shots and had nine turnovers as the Cavs lost by nine. On his way back to the locker room, James pulled off his Cavs jersey which inevitably led to the footage going viral as he later left Cleveland that summer.
The former Miami Heat star has since exorcised those demons, but he is excited about returning to Boston with the Cavaliers again on Friday.
“Their fans know the game of basketball, they appreciate the game of basketball, and I love a little adversity,” James said after practice Thursday. “They’re one of the best at creating adversity, so it should be fun.”
Cleveland (3-3) play the Celtics (3-4) with James averaging 30.1 points in 36 career games against Boston, and he is fully aware of the reception that he is likely to receive in the city.
“Oh yeah, you hear them,” James said. “They have their own slang and twang. I know, obviously, being a part of that. And also just shooting a TV show [“Survivor’s Remorse”] where [the main characters are] from Boston. So I know all about it.
“They’ve been great. Even in negative times, they’ve been great. Just to compete in that building, the rivalry that I have with the Big Three when they were there over the years has been cool.”
Meanwhile, James was also slightly annoyed by being denied a triple-double for the second time in his career after he had a rebound and assist taken away from him in the win over the New Orleans Pelicans earlier this week.
The Cavs star was left with a stat line of 32 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.