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New team, but it was pretty much the same old LeBron James in his first preseason game with the Los Angeles Lakers.
In the end, James recorded nine points, three rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes — all in the first half. The Lakers got creamed by the Denver Nuggets, 124-107 on Sunday night in San Diego.
But the final score was beside the point. Everyone came to see James.
“It was great to get back on the floor and start a new journey for myself,” James told reporters.
He added, “We gotta get better at everything.”
His first assist was a nifty pass to Brandon Ingram for a dunk. His first basket was a 3-pointer officially listed as 26 feet from the hoop. It came off a pass from veteran point guard Rajon Rondo.
As Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported, about 300 fans showed up for the Lakers’ shootaround Sunday morning. Remember, this is the preseason we’re talking about. On a Sunday filled with regular-season NFL games, no less.
LeBron James playing in a #Lakers uniform: "It definitely feels different. It's going to take a little bit of time to get used to."
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) October 1, 2018
“James sat at the end of the Lakers’ bench for most of the game, atop a wedge that elevated his torso so his head peeked about a foot above the rest of his teammates,” Tania Ganguli of the Los Angeles Times reported.
“He clapped and chuckled after a Lance Stephenson hesitation move that led to a basket. He groaned at foul calls conjured by the league’s new points of emphasis for officiating.”
This is LeBron and these are the new-look Lakers. They have lots of work ahead if they hope to compete in the rugged Western Conference. But Sunday’s game was proof that everyone will be watching every step of the way. Some things about LeBron just don’t change, even if his uniforms often do.