LeBron Sinks Game-Winner to Cap Emotional Return of NBA


LeBron James' game-winning shot punctuated an emotional and unprecedented return of NBA action on Thursday night.

James' go-ahead bucket with about 12 seconds left propelled the Lakers to a narrow victory over their intracity rivals, the Los Angeles Clippers, on the first day of regular-season NBA game action since the league's suspension in March.

Earlier in the evening, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert -- whose positive test for the coronavirus led to the NBA's shutdown -- similarly helped his team secure a slim win over Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans by sinking a pair of free throws with only seconds left on the clock in the fourth quarter.

"Life works in mysterious ways," Gobert said after.

Gobert also scored the first points of the restart.

The on-court action was preceded by unified displays of kneeling during the playing of the national anthem by both teams prior to both games, in solidarity with calls to end police brutality and systemic racism.

As well, most players wore one of a few dozen pre-approved messages of social justice on their jerseys.

The court itself of course looked different from what NBA fans are accustomed to.

With no fans in attendance and the teams playing in much smaller venues than the traditional NBA arena, the setting naturally looked smaller. Virtual fans were superimposed on the few rows of seating surrounding either side of the court, though "real" spectators also attended when a group of players came by to check out the action of their league-mates.

The intimate setting without fans in attendance in some ways brought the action closer to TV viewers than ever before. Just as MLB has experienced, the lack of ambient noise in the venue allowed player reactions and conversations to carry. On more than one occasion the national broadcast's audio went silent, presumably to censor out coarse language.

The always entertaining JaVale McGee was mic'd up, and didn't disappoint.