The NBA is back and LeBron James showed what fans had been missing out on after a clutch game-winner, but some some fans have also spotted his classy tribute to Kobe Bryant.
James followed his own miss and made the winning shot with 12.8 seconds left as the Lakers won the Los Angeles derby 103-101 over the Clippers on Thursday.
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In the restart of the NBA season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, Anthony Davis scored a game-high 34 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Lakers.
James finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists - shooting just 6-of-19.
Players made a huge statement pre-game when they took a knee during the American national anthem in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
James said he hoped the NBA made Colin Kaerpernick - the first high-profile US sportsman to take a knee during the national anthem - proud during their statement.
“We’re dealing with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, a lot of police brutality...We cannot stop with our foot on the gas …” James about the Black Lives Matter movement.
“We’re dealing with a lot of racism, a lot of social injustice, a lot of police brutality … We cannot stop with our foot on the gas …”— ESPN (@espn) July 31, 2020
—LeBron on the NBA’s fight for social justice pic.twitter.com/wn8qUDJw6P
LeBron showed why he is still the ‘King’ with the clutch game-winner, but fans also noticed his touching tribute to Lakers legend Bryant during the game.
There was also plenty of plaudits for James after hitting the winner and following it up with an insane defensive play to lock-up Leonard.
Lebron Locked up Kawhi in the 4th and switched out on PG to get a stop...btw Bron hit the GAME WINNER. AD was the BEST PLAYER on the court tonight!!!! Sleep Well...— Kendrick Perkins (@KendrickPerkins) July 31, 2020
can’t wait for my future grandkid to ask me what it was like to watch LeBron James so I can say “wtf are you talking about kid he’s only 67 and he just had 23 points and 11 assists"— Rodger Sherman (@rodger) July 31, 2020
It’s insane that LeBron is 35 and still the best player in the world— Sam Morril (@sammorril) July 31, 2020
LeBron puts back his own miss for a game-winning bucket just before clamping Kawhi yet again to end regulation. Then immediately delivers a moving post-game interview about the progress we have to make in terms of social justice. Are you fucking kidding me? Absolute icon.— manny (@mannyfidel) July 31, 2020
Kyle Kuzma added 16 points for the first-place Lakers (50-14), who increased their lead to 6.5 games over the second-place Clippers (44-21) in the Western Conference standings.
Paul George had 30 points for the Clippers, but missed a three-pointer at the final buzzer, while Kawhi Leonard finished with 28 points.
Both teams showed rust after more than four months without competitive play. The Clippers committed 22 turnovers compared to the Lakers' 16.
NBA returns with close encounters
Earlier, Joe Ingles' Utah Jazz managed to overcome a late deficit to beat New Orleans Pelicans 106-104.
It was the first game since March 11 when the NBA shut the season down after Jazz centre Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19.
Aussie Ingles had 13 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals, but also committed five turnovers.
The Pelicans led for most of the game and were up by seven points with six minutes to go.
But Utah guard Donovan Mitchell scored eight of his 20 points in the final four minutes.
The Pelicans welcomed their rookie star Zion Williamson (13 points) back to the team, but limited his play to just 15 minutes after he left the NBA bubble last week for a family emergency.
The Pelicans' Brandon Ingram (equal game-high 23 points) had a chance to win the game with a final second three-pointer but it bounced off the rim.
Before the game the Jazz and Pelicans players, coaches and referees knelt, linked arms and bowed their heads during the playing of the American anthem in a statement against racism and social injustice.
The players also wore statements on the back of their jerseys.
Ingles had "Ally" to symbolise his support for team-mates and the US-Australian alliance.