CLEVELAND -- LeBron James came back -- off the bench.
Cleveland's star forward, who missed the previous five games
with a sprained left index finger, returned to the floor, but
surprisingly not as a starter on Tuesday night when the Cavaliers
hosted the Indiana Pacers.
James had started all 332 career regular-season NBA games before
coming in with 5:59 remaining in the first quarter. He had also
started 33 playoff games in his first four seasons as a pro.
It's unclear why Cavaliers coach Mike Brown chose not to start
his best player. James has been a starter most of his life, even
predating his rise to superstardom as a high school phenom in
He was a reserve on the U.S. Olympic team that won a bronze
medal at the Athens Games in 2004.
James entered the game following a timeout, checking in with
guard Larry Hughes and forward Anderson Varejao, who was making his
season debut after ending a contract holdout last week by signing a
three-year, $17 million contract.
Perhaps by bringing Varejao in at the same time as James, the
Cavaliers were attempting to diffuse any negative reaction aimed at
the Brazilian, who before ending his holdout had said he didn't
want to play in Cleveland.
James wore a padded, protective glove over the knuckle on his
finger, which was injured in a Nov. 28 game against Detroit when he
was fouled on a drive to the basket by Pistons forward Nazr Mohammed.
The Cavaliers lost that game and dropped five in a row without
James, the NBA's leading scorer.