Tuesday night's season opener between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics was supposed to be a battle between LeBron James and Kyrie Irving - former teammates who had a falling out this summer.
However, almost immediately, a pall was cast over the game, as Boston forward Gordon Hayward suffered a gruesome injury midway through the first quarter.
The rest of the game was a more somber affair, though the Cavaliers did manage to hold off the Celtics with a fourth-quarter rally.
LeBron and Irving did manage to share a special moment after the game, though. As you can see in the video below, after Irving misses a game-tying three-pointer at the buzzer, he and his former teammate immediately embrace, congratulating each other and seemingly putting their differences aside:
After all the back and forth following Irving's trade demand this summer, it was nice to see the two superstars put their differences aside in order to share a special postgame moment.
James admitted that it was nice to see Irving again, but added that it didn't affect the way he played when he stepped on the court (via NBA.com):
“Any time you win a championship with someone, you automatically think about the moments and the memories, especially with someone who was instrumental to what we were able to accomplish," he said. "But once the ball went up, it was kind of back to our regularly scheduled program.”
LeBron finished with a game-high 29 points and also added 16 rebounds and nine assists. Irving played well, too, notching 22 points and 10 assists.
On Irving's last-ditch attempt to tie the game, LeBron said he was simply trying to play good defense without fouling, adding that he wouldn't have been surprised if Irving came through in the clutch once again:
“I just didn’t want to commit the foul and if he made it, he made it," he said. "He’s made so many of those tough shots right there, kind of on his sweet spot (at) that right wing, too. So we played well – well enough to win – but obviously we’ve got a lot of room for improvement, both teams. It was good to get a win under the belt though.”
The Celtics and Cavs don't meet up again for a while, with their next matchup scheduled for Jan. 3 in Boston. A lot is sure to change by then, with the Celtics having time to adjust to life without Hayward, but it's still going to be an emotional, hotly contested game.