LeBron James was "ecstatic" to be back in action at the start of the new NBA season, even though he was unable to help the Los Angeles Lakers to victory on opening night.
Having missed the end of the previous campaign with a groin injury, James scored 18 points and also contributed nine rebounds and eight assists during his 36 minutes on court.
However, the 15-time All-Star was unable to help the Lakers avoid defeat against the Los Angeles Clippers, Kawhi Leonard contributing a team-high 30 points on a successful debut for his new franchise.
Asked how it felt to be back in action after such a long break, James replied: "Ecstatic. I was so excited to get back on the floor.
"Obviously a little rusty in terms of my perimeter shooting and being in a game situation. I haven't played that many minutes in quite a while, since I sat the last nine games out of last season.
"But just to be able to go out there and fly around again, jump high and be at 100 per cent, that's something I worked my tail off after I had the groin injury in December.
"I'm just trying to get back to who I am, so it was great to be out there."
Anthony Davis had 25 points for the new-look Lakers, who led after the first quarter before giving up 40 points in the second. They also struggled down the stretch, while the Clippers' bench outscored them 60-19 in a 112-102 triumph.
James, though, refused to be too concerned by the result, instead choosing to see the bigger picture.
"It's the first game. Obviously the NBA is back and everybody is having the narrative of a rivalry game and it being a huge test," the three-time NBA champion told the media.
"Both teams are not where they want to be. We have a lot of room to improve. We are a new group that's coming together. We have a new coaching staff and a new system.
"It's not a rivalry – we are trying to get better every day. We did some good things, we did some not-so-good things. That happens in game one, especially for a new club.
"We will look to get into the film room tomorrow and look at some of the mistakes we've made, where we can get better."
The Lakers are back in action on Friday at home against the Utah Jazz.