After LeBron James expressed his love for playing in Madison Square Garden on Sunday night, he made an effort to also pay tribute to his current home, Staples Center, after a gentle jab from the arena on social media.
— Crypto.com Arena (@cryptocomarena) May 11, 2020
Oh don’t worry!! I FREAKING LOVE and MISS Staples Center so much!!! 🙏🏾❤️💪🏾👑
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 11, 2020
James’ motivation for his enthusiasm for Madison Square Garden was the latest installment of ESPN’s documentary on the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls. In a Sunday night episode, Bulls legend Michael Jordan also expressed his love for the iconic arena that serves as the home of the New York Knicks.
During James’ first tenure with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he had often expressed a sentiment about how much he loved played at Madison Square Garden.
That was evident in 2009, when he referred to the arena as “the Mecca of basketball” in postgame comments and spoke of the history that’s taken place in the facility.
That came after James delivered a 52-point performance and came one year after he had scored 50 points in the same arena.
That feeling by James was considered strong enough to make him a viable candidate to sign with the Knicks as a free agent in 2010. However, James instead chose to sign with the Miami Heat and began a string of four consecutive appearances in the NBA Finals that resulted in a pair of league titles.
In 2014, James chose to return to play for Cleveland and followed with four more finals appearances and one NBA championship, then came to Los Angeles in 2018.
Staples Center has only been around since 1999, and other than the five Lakers titles that followed, has yet to establish the sort of legacy that Madison Square Garden has had over its lengthy history.
If and when the current NBA season resumes, games most likely will not be played at either Staples Center or Madison Square Garden, given the continuing coronavirus pandemic.
Yet, wherever the games take place, James will be trying to bring another championship to the Lakers in order to hang another NBA title banner at Staples Center.