It was an opening night to forget for LeBron James and the LA Lakers.
After plenty of pre-season hype, the King’s 21st season in the NBA got under way in disappointing fashion.
1James’ 21st season as an NBA player did not get off to a good startCredit: Getty
Reigning champions Denver Nuggets got their NBA title defence up and running with a 119-107 victory in Colorado.
With all the focus on James, it was last year’s MVP Nikola Jokic who stole the show with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists to underline his reputation as one of the most exciting talents in the league.
James scored a team-high 21 points in vain as the Nuggets followed their banner ceremony with a comfortable win in front of their own fans.
Towards the end of the game, the Nuggets faithful decided to target James and his teammates with some trash talk.
With the clock winding down, the fans started chanting “Who’s your Daddy?”, in a throwback to Denver’s Western Conference finals win over the Lakers earlier this year.
Television cameras captured James looking slightly annoyed as the Lakers limped to defeat.
In fact, the team have lost their last seven consecutive opening games, a horrid run that stretches back to 2016.
Four-time NBA champion James played just 29 minutes in Tuesday night’s defeat.
Asked whether a load management plan for James is likely to continue, Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said: “We’ll see. In all likelihood, yes.”
James, now the oldest player in the NBA at 38, admitted a plan to limit his minutes was in place.
The four-time MVP said: “I guess there’s a system in place and I’m going to follow it.”