OPENING DAY: LeBron and MVPs get their first taste

OPENING DAY: LeBron and MVPs get their first taste

Brooklyn Nets' Kevin Durant (left) and Kyrie Irving will be eager to set the stage on fire when they run into Golden State Warriors in the season opener. AFP

Just over two months since LeBron James won his fourth championship and his first with the Los Angeles Lakers, he returns to the court for the 2020-21 NBA season where he and his band of brothers will take on the Clippers on Thursday morning.

The hasty return to action was forced by the wildly curtailed 2020 season as the result of a pandemic, but with the new bio-bubble measures in place, this season should go as planned, unless another lockdown is called on.

In that vein, it’s perhaps unfair on the Lakers and Miami Heat - last season’s finalists - for they have had significantly lesser time to chart the course of a new season. This rushed pre-season action and the season proper more so affects a not-so-young LeBron.

The star turns 36 in little over a week and is no spring chicken but he sure knows how to take care of that body when the going gets tough, and in that he will be looking to defend Lakers’ crown this season.

For an opening night though, there’s some serious heat in MVPs, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard in action. Kyrie Erving too returns, but this time his efforts will be bolstered by the addition of a recovered Durant.

Durant has looked a bit scratchy in the pre-season, but the signs are very good, and it doesn’t seem like his Achilles is troubling him too much. Irving has looked every bit the player he has always been.

"Every drill that I’ve done, I’ve been going as hard as I could. I’ve been in the league for 14 years. Even if I didn’t have an Achilles’, I probably wouldn’t be 100 percent. So, the wear and tear over time, I guess, but I feel solid," said Durant.

On the other side of the Nets will be the new-look Golden State Warriors. Before the start of the season they looked like championship material with the return of Klay Thompson and the re-injection of Curry, but with Klay ruled out, it’s on Curry’s slender shoulders to carry them through. Playoff material? Maybe not. But it will be an exciting season for them as they look to rebuild around what remains of a once impregnable core. The acquisition o Kelly Oubre Jr is surely a facelift worth attention.   

“I never had a time of not playing games for such a long time. I have to figure out what we’re going to do in Milwaukee for Christmas. But other than that, it’s going to be pretty awesome just to be playing basketball again. I’m excited. It’s going to be here before you know it,” said Curry looking forward to the 2020/21 NBA season.

On the other side, there’s the cross-town rivalry in the Lakers and the Clippers. The Lakers have reconfigured their roster a bit but none too significantly. “It is crazy to not be able to celebrate and kind of have a parade with the fans and the city but it is something that we have to just get through and be able to come out and defend our title as well as make sure we stay fresh and be ready for Friday,” said Davis speaking to reporters last week.

Clippers still have the services of Leonard and Paul George and should they combine well enough, they could well upstage the Lakers this once, and perhaps more so as the season gets on.