This is no way to treat an old friend.
LeBron James made his annual return to Cleveland on Monday for a Los Angeles Lakers game against the Cavaliers. Before tip, it was time to catch up with Kevin Love, the Cavs forward with whom he shared four trips to the NBA Finals, including a run to the 2016 championship.
After tip, it was time for business. At Love’s expense. With around 2:40 remaining in the half, James caught a pass on the wing from Austin Reaves armed with a full head of steam and nothing but Love standing between himself and the basket. The result went as expected.
That’s clearly not what Love signed up for when he camped out in the paint.
The poster slam at his expense appeared to rattle the Cavs forward. Love found himself with the ball at the top of the key on the ensuing Cleveland possession. When met with a double team including James, Love responded with a stutter step travel for a Cavs turnover.
Not the finest sequence for the likely future Hall of Famer.
Also, check out the replay. Love appeared to make the split-second decision once James got the ball to do his best to take a charge. But at the very last moment, he appeared to realize the futility of his effort and the consequences of his actions.
He winced and moved ever so slightly out of James’ path in an apparent attempt to limit the damage. But it was too late. Love is on a poster. And he’s got an old friend to thank for it.
Adding insult to injury, James tallied 38 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in a 131-120 Lakers win. He’s glad for the win, of course. He just hopes the dunk doesn’t cost him a wedding invitation.
“I hate it had to be him,” James said after the game. “He’s my guy. He’s my brother. I hope I’m still invited to the wedding. …
“I didn’t mean it. K Love, I love you. I wish I could take those two points back. We’d still win the game by nine.”