LeBron, Lakers vs. Cavs Is ESPN's Highest-Rated Regular-Season Game Since 2016

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistNovember 22, 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 21: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during player introductions prior to the game against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena on November 21, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

From the moment the four-time NBA MVP signed with the Los Angeles Lakers this summer, basketball fans made sure to circle LeBron James' first game back in Cleveland on their calendars.

In other words, it should come as no surprise that Wednesday night's game between the Lakers and the Cavaliers drew huge viewing numbers.

ESPN's Ben Cafardo revealed on Thursday that the Lakers-Cavs matchup was the network's highest-rated regular-season game in more than a year. The King's homecoming drew a 2.6 metered market rating, which was an 18 percent bump from a comparable game a season ago. It also became the most-watched game of the young season across all networks.

Meanwhile, it was ESPN's highest-rated game since the Golden State Warriors captured their record-setting 73rd victory in April 2016.

It's not the first time in James' career that he has played a game in Cleveland after leaving as a free agent. His previous return featured an extremely hostile Quicken Loans Arena after he teamed up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat via "The Decision."

This time around, though, the Akron native received a warm welcome after leading the Cavs to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and their first-ever championship during his second stint with the team:

Spencer Davies @SpinDavies

Cleveland has been overwhelmingly supportive of LeBron at the Q before the game. Defeaning cheers during intros. https://t.co/WAriYKVE5A

James (32 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists) and the Lakers were able to hand the Cavs (2-14) their latest loss by virtue of a 109-105 L.A. victory.