CLEVELAND -- Major League Baseball enjoyed the two greatest words in all of sports with a Game 7 in the World Series on Wednesday, but LeBron James believed his regular-season opener with the Cleveland Cavaliers had the potential to draw even more attention.
"For me, I know all of us shouldn't take this moment for granted," James said after shootaround Thursday in advance of the Cavs' home game against the New York Knicks. "This is probably one of the biggest sporting events that is up there ever."
Hyperbole? To some extent. But one can hardly blame James for getting caught up in the hype of his return. At the same time James was speaking to reporters at Quicken Loans Arena, Nike was busy unveiling a 10-story banner of his likeness just a couple of blocks away.
James was playing Thursday in his first official game for the Cavs in more than four years since leaving for Miami, and while things have changed in his absence -- Cleveland has new uniforms, a new court design and a new video scoreboard that owner Dan Gilbert has dubbed the "humongotron" -- there is plenty that is familiar, from James going back to his old No. 23 to him putting it up to the fans to decide whether they want to see his pregame chalk toss ritual again. James revealed the result of his fan poll Thursday afternoon, hours before tipoff.
You guys are incredible!!! Thank you pic.twitter.com/Meo3tE9Yu9
- LeBron James (@KingJames) October 30, 2014
Confetti packets were distributed to every fan in attendance at the arena in anticipation of the chalk toss so they could throw the confetti along with him, according to ESPN's Darren Rovell.
The first home game of James' career came against Carmelo Anthony. The two are facing off again in James' first game back in Cleveland, only James is now pushing 30 years old and has two championship rings and two Olympic gold medals to his name.
"It is not the beginning,"James said. "It is the third [chapter] for myself. It is far from the beginning."
While James has history in Cleveland, it's a new experience for some of the other members of the team.
"Myself and my staff, we are as excited as anybody," said David Blatt, who not only is coaching his first regular-season game for the Cavs but his first game in the NBA after an accomplished coaching career overseas. "This is the beginning of the journey. And we have worked hard during the course of the preseason. Our management group and our owners have worked hard to put a good team in our hands and 'very excited' would be a fair way to describe the feeling, yes."
It is Kevin Love's first official game in a Cavs uniform, too, but he was quick to remember the task at hand.
"It's going to be electric in here, but I hope more than anything we just want to get a win at the end of the day," Love said.
The anticipation turned into reality soon enough.
"I have had many thoughts of how it might be," James said when asked to look ahead to the game. "How loud it may be. How great it is going to be to back on this floor. It's going to be exciting not only when my name is announced, but the rest of the guys and just our team coming out on the floor and getting ready for another hopefully great year."
"The way (LeBron's) basically saying he's doing it for the city, he feels entitled to come back and win a championship for the city, that's something everybody in this locker room wants to do," Haden said. "For him to show that (love) to Cleveland and the fans, that's really special."
"It makes it so much realer when you're really living it," Haden added. "If I didn't play for Cleveland and I wasn't really around the city and really didn't know the fans and didn't really know how passionate they were and how they really felt, you wouldn't really understand. But being a part of it, being here, being downtown interacting with the fans all the time, they are serious about how much they love their sports and how much they want to win so bad. It's just a good feeling. You can't really explain, can't really put your finger on it. It excites everybody."
Information from ESPN.com's Jeremy Fowler was used in this report.