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NBA schedule 2019-20: Ranking the five best revenge games involving superstars returning to their old stomping grounds

The 2019 NBA offseason saw a plethora of players – All-Stars, superstars, future Hall-of-Famers and former MVP’s – switch teams – either via trade or free agency. The respective returns of these players to face off against their former franchises will be must-see TV, as each player will be looking to put on a show in front of those that used to cheer for them. 

Though the start of the season is still a couple of months away, it’s never too early to look ahead. With that in mind, here’s a look at the five best revenge games scheduled for the 2019-20 season. 

  1. Brooklyn NetsKyrie Irving at Boston Celtics: November 27

“I’ve shared it with some of my teammates as well as the organization as well as everyone else in Boston. If you guys will have me back, I plan on re-signing here next year.”    

That’s what Kyrie Irving said at an event for Celtics season-ticket holders at TD Garden early last October, but by the time July rolled around, Irving was gone, as he inked a fresh, four-year deal with the Brooklyn Nets, and it didn’t even seem like staying with the Celtics was something that the All-Star guard strongly considered. After two underwhelming seasons, it appeared as though Irving had grown tired of Boston, and the feeling was mutual. 

Out of all of the players set to return to play against their former franchises next season, only one of those players publicly promised to return to that franchise, only to do a complete 180 and sign elsewhere when the time came. For that reason alone, Irving’s game has an extra layer of intrigue. If you add in the fact that the Irving will be looking to put on a show to send a message to his doubters in Boston, you have the recipe for an all-time revenge game. 

2. Los Angeles LakersAnthony Davis at New Orleans Pelicans: November 27

Anthony Davis’ exit from New Orleans got messy, as his desire to be moved was public knowledge for months before he was finally shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers in June. Even though the Pelicans have moved on as a franchise, Davis’ return still promises to be an eventful evening. 

Every player is motivated to put on a show against their former franchise, but that desire gets ramped up when the fan base has turned on a player, like the New Orleans faithful have done to Davis. Now that the city is enamored with Zion Williamson, Davis will be looking to remind the city exactly what type of player they lost. 

3. Houston RocketsRussell Westbrook at Oklahoma City Thunder: January 9

After playing his entire 11-year career in a Thunder jersey, Westbrook will return to Oklahoma City in a different uniform for the first time this season. His return promises to be an emotional evening, as he developed a deep bond with the people of Oklahoma City over the course of a decade-plus. Sure, there are probably some that are unhappy with the way his tenure with the team ended, and others that hold the team’s lack of a title against him, but overall the vibe in the arena that evening will likely be one of appreciation. 

4. Los Angeles ClippersKawhi Leonard at Toronto Raptors: December 11

Leonard spent just a single season with the Toronto Raptors, but it was certainly an unforgettable one. Leonard led the Raptors through an extremely memorable postseason run (except for 76ers fans) to help the organization claim their first title in franchise history, before deciding to sign with his hometown Los Angeles Clippers in free agency. 

Unlike many of the other homecomings on this list, Leonard should be on the receiving end of some loud ovations when the Clippers travel to Toronto for the only time next season, rather than being the recipient of some serious boos. Raptors fans will likely use the opportunity to express their gratitude for all that Leonard did during his lone season North of the Border. 

5. Dallas MavericksKristaps Porzingis at New York Knicks: November 14

Kristaps Porzingis was once viewed as the future of the Knicks; a savior of their long-stagnant franchise. Things clearly didn’t work out that way as Porzingis will be playing in Madison Square Garden only once this season, and as a member of the Dallas Mavericks. 

Porzingis has been sidelined for well over a year due to a nasty leg injury that he suffered during his last game as a Knick, so just seeing him back out on the court will be a solid sight, but a motivated Porzingis looking to show skeptics that he is still one of the game’s most promising young players will be even better. 

EltasZone Sportswriters, Sports Analysts, Opinion columnists, editorials and op-eds. Analysis from The Zone Team
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