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LeBron James wants to attend Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement – in Cleveland

Mar 3, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

Cleveland Cavaliers' Zydrunas Ilgauskas rests his head on the shoulder of LeBron James in Cleveland Getty Images

LeBron James, to nobody’s surprise, is the all-time leading scorer in Cleveland Cavaliers history.

Who’s No. 2?

Zydrunas Ilgauskas, one of the most underrated of the previous generation of NBA players.

Ilgauskas overcame serious injuries to claim the Cavaliers’ franchise record for games played and made two All-Star games. He possessed a nice touch around the basket and used his 7-foot-3 frame to rebound like many players that tall struggle to do.

The Cavaliers built a losing roster to tank for LeBron, and after acquiring him, they cleared out the riffraff. But they kept Ilgauskas, and he and LeBron grew close. Ilgauskas even followed LeBron to Miami for a season, though Cleveland has apparently gotten over that defection.

Saturday, the Cavaliers will retire Ilgauskas’ jersey.

The Heat play at San Antonio on Thursday and Chicago on Sunday. Would that two-day break allow LeBron to attend the ceremony?

LeBron, via Tom Haberstroh of ESPN:

“I want to be there, but we’ll see. I’m not sure just yet,” James said. “I think it’s going to be a great day for my friend, a dear friend of mine. I’m excited for him.”

Of course, whenever LeBron returns to Cleveland, it’s a spectacle. Haberstroh:

would the reigning MVP’s presence take attention away from Ilgauskas?

“I hope it doesn’t, if I’m able to make it,” James said. “It’s not my day, it’s not about me. It’s about Z. But it wouldn’t matter to me. Obviously I’m there for a dear friend, to be able to support him, if I’m able to make it, and that’s the main thing.”

LeBron being there would take away from Ilgauskas, but that’s fair to neither LeBron nor Ilgauskas. If they want to share this occasion together, they shouldn’t let Cleveland fans deter them.

Those two brought the Cavaliers to their highest levels. It would be nice if fans would respect both of them enough to let Ilgauskas have his moment. Of course, they wouldn’t, which is in there rights.

But I hope LeBron attends and he and Ilgauskas just block out the noise.

  1. knicksmets - Mar 3, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    That’s a nice thing to hear, hopefully cav fans don’t take attention away from the ceremony to boo Lebron

    • chicagosports2014 - Mar 3, 2014 at 10:36 PM

      Cleveland would be crazy to let dude in the building, “ITS ABOUT DAMN TIME TO MOVE ON LEBRON.”

    • chicagosports2014 - Mar 3, 2014 at 10:36 PM

      Cleveland would be crazy to let dude in the building, “ITS ABOUT DAMN TIME TO MOVE ON LEBRON.”

      • bhunter1995 - Mar 3, 2014 at 11:05 PM

        Its time to move on Cleveland. The #2 scorer on the Cavs ehen they made the finals was Larry Hughes with 14.9 PPG. Lebron single handedly carried the Cavs to the playoffs over and over again and took them to the finals. The Cavs management never got him the help he needed to win and since he left they have failed to build a playoff team even with two #1 picks and a #4 pick. The Cavaliers failed Lebron and he never once complained, the one mistake he made was the whole “decision” thing, he should have kept it quiet. As an ex LBJ hater and die hard Laker fan its hard to say this but you have to respect the greatness of LeBron he is hands down the most versatile player since the Big O Oscar Robinson. Not only that he is a lockdown defender and has steadily improved every offseason. He used to be a choke, now with one second on the clock LBJ is one of the most dangerous people in the league (its LBJ, KD, Joe Johnson, and Lillard not in any order).

        Stop with the irrational hate, I used to hate him too but there comes a time when you have to face facts. As I said before, I’m not even a Lebron or Heat fan, I bleed purp and gold do don’t give me any “stop riding his D” comments, I’m just telling the truth.

      • calkinsrob - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:45 AM

        @bhunter1995 Thank you!! couldnt have said it better my self.

      • mogogo1 - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        The decision thing was a disaster. I can get people being hurt and ticked off by that. But that was the ONLY thing LeBron did wrong regarding Cleveland. He put in his time, played hard, and carried them a long way by himself. Cleveland didn’t own him… he was free to go play wherever else he wanted. Shouldn’t have jilted them like he did on live TV, but his reasons for leaving have become all the more obvious with time. That franchise has way too many high round picks to still be terrible. Time to bury the hatchet with LeBron and start asking why the team never, ever seems to improve.

      • chicagosports2014 - Mar 4, 2014 at 4:31 PM

        Lebron could’ve won a ring in Cleveland he just wasn’t mature enough to carry a team. Regardless what you have witnessed from him so far is good, but last I checked Lebron was the most hyped player coming Into the league. So did you expect more rings from him, or did you see him teaming up with 2 of the top 10 players in league to live up to the HYPE? No hate just facts, I call it how I see it.

      • bhunter1995 - Mar 4, 2014 at 5:38 PM

        Chisports fan you are delusional. No team has ever won a championship with only one guy who was above average. Larry Hughes was the #2 guy on the cavs when they got to the finals. LARRY HUGHES (Career averages of 14.1 PPG on 41% shooting) the Cavs wasted years of Lebrons career. Cavs fans have only two people to be mad at the owner and the GM, with two #1 picks and a #4 they have a bottom feeder in the east with a terrible locker room enviorment for everyone involved, when Kyrie leaves because of managerial incompetance will you burn his jersey too???

      • chicagosports2014 - Mar 4, 2014 at 6:27 PM

        Bhunter, remember the playoff game when he single handedly beat Detroit Pistons, i think Boston won it that all that season? Well they took King James ring that year, BANDWAGON BOI

      • thatguy517 - Mar 4, 2014 at 7:02 PM

        @chicagosports2014 Boston didn’t even make the playoffs that year idiot

      • chicagosports2014 - Mar 4, 2014 at 8:43 PM

        I said, think? But I see you remember when I’m talk about, case close idiot. Heheha

      • bhunter1995 - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:35 AM

        Chisports, notice how 37 people agreed with me and one person (you) didn’t. Notice how 4 people agreed with you and 36 people didn’t. I’m not a bandwagon fan, I’m spitting facts. I don’t like LeBron, I don’t like the Heat. I root for every team in the league before I root for the Heat. Don’t call me some bandwagon fan, my right toe knows more BBall then your entire family. In fact my money is on the Pacers as the winners of the ECF (I bet you don’t know what ECF stamds for, its the eastern conferance finals).

      • thatguy517 - Mar 5, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        @chicagosports2014 The fact that you even thought Boston won it all that year when actually they had one of the worst records in the league goes to show that some people just don’t belong leaving their comments about sports on these sites.

    • thetooloftools - Mar 4, 2014 at 6:30 PM

      That piece of human puke doesn’t deserve to be anywhere near The Cavs in any capacity. You screwed us and then slapped us on the way out the door. I don’t want you back here on Saturday or any other day. Wow. You guys stacked the deck in Miami. Great. Stay there. I can’t believe Dan Gilbert agreed to this.

      • blueintown - Mar 5, 2014 at 11:01 PM

        Are you talking to LeBron or Z?

  2. cantonbound13 - Mar 3, 2014 at 9:30 PM

    King PED shouldn’t go, it would only take away from Big Z’s moment.

    • leahcima1 - Mar 3, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      That’s not very nice Mr. Cantonbound. You shouldn’t make false accusations without some proof. By the way did you get a chance to see the clinic that Lebron put on tonight? I hope so. It helps to understand a sport if you watch the best practice their craft.

      • chicagosports2014 - Mar 3, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        Players usually break personal highs playing Charlotte Bobcats. It’s no biggy!

      • cantonbound13 - Mar 4, 2014 at 10:20 AM

        Watch what? Melo scored 62 against the same team, didn’t need the whole game to do so & isn’t on PEDs.

    • antistratfordian - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:27 AM

      They’re too close for him not to go.

  3. nicofthenorthstar - Mar 3, 2014 at 9:47 PM

    That’s nice of you to write up Ilgauskas’ planned jersey retiring ceremony and his achievements in the NBA. What’s really nice is that you made the article about Lebron. Hoping to get hired by espn? Clown.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 3, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      If he was trying to get hired by ESPN, he would have called up Tim Tebow for his thoughts and ended the article with a plug for yet another Yankees/Red Sox Sunday Night Baseball game.

    • eugenesaxe1 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:06 AM

      At least he didn’t mention Jason Collins.

  4. turkbox420 - Mar 3, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    Congrats Big Z!!!!

  5. tv63 - Mar 3, 2014 at 11:20 PM

    He should be there! He’s giving him respect . I’m a die hard Cleveland Cav fan. I have no problem with this at all. anyone else that does has a small mind.

  6. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 4, 2014 at 12:09 AM

    It’s not that hard to figure out, you just keep leb out of sight. Not in the stands, not in a luxury box. He can watch from a locker room/broom closet and pass along his best wishes after the ceremony.

  7. campcouch - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:31 AM

    The same “fans” who are still dwelling on LBJ moving on are the same “fans” that continue to crucify a dead Art Modell. Despite the distasteful ways both left Cleveland,they still provided the fanbase with opportunities in the leagues that they hadn’t experienced before and some of us appreciate that. Move on,the man wants to honor another man that gave him a bit of mentorship and friendship. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Z told him it would be a good move to go to Miami so his career didn’t end like his. Hats off to Big Z. Enjoy!

  8. 12312 - Mar 4, 2014 at 1:38 AM

    “Of course, they wouldn’t, which is in there rights. ”
    Good God man, edit your damn piece with more than spell check.

  9. blueintown - Mar 4, 2014 at 7:42 AM

    If two of your all-time greats bolt to pursue a championship with superior talent in another city, and the one you chooses to vilify is one of the top 5 players of all time (as opposed to the slightly-above average center) there is something seriously defective about your fan base.

  10. 2dmo4 - Mar 4, 2014 at 8:28 AM

    Let Z have his day. LJ always has to be the center of attention. This is about Z, not you.

  11. cmalpaugh - Mar 4, 2014 at 9:10 AM

    This (http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2010/08/ilgauskas_thanks_cavs_fans_for.html) is why we forgive Big Z for leaving. He left with class.

    While I’m sure the sting would have still been pretty bad if LeBron had still left using a method like this, “The Decision,” by LeBron’s own admission, was a terrible idea that only added fuel to the fire of the anger that would come.

    I wonder how Yankees fans would have reacted if Jeter left the team in a similar fashion as LeBron? My guess is it wouldn’t have been pretty, but Cleveland fans are doomed to be labeled as petulant children. And that scenario doesn’t even take into account the added kick in the groin of one of our own turning his back on us (although, I recognize that LeBron was able to complete some pretty amazing mental gymnastics in order to believe that the Cavs are not really his home town team).

    • cmalpaugh - Mar 4, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      All that being said, I have no problem with LeBron attending this ceremony. The two are definitely close, so LeBron should be there.

      And I really hope that Cavs fans let Z have his moment, and don’t try to boo LeBron. Even if you are still raw about how it all went down with LeBron, this is not the place or time to voice your anger.

  12. chief0727 - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:09 AM

    As typical on this site, a story about LeBron has become a place for the “Cleveland Haters” to spill their venom about Cleveland and it’s fans. The fact of the matter is LeBron coming back to Cleveland, in any capacity, is no longer a story. Cavs fans for the most part don’t care anymore. If he wants to be there for Z, and Z wants him there, God bless them both and have at it. There are always going to be a small percentage of LeBron haters in Cleveland, just as their will always be Dwight Howard haters in L.A., Bynum haters in Philly, Bosh haters in Toronto, and on and on. The continued perception that the average Cavs fan circles the Heat games on their calendars, so they can go spend $100’s to go to the game to boo LeBron, burn his jersey, yell obscenities about his family, etc. is ridiculous.

  13. azarkhan - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:17 AM

    The LeBron James haters are like Patriots haters: irrational, stupid, and not changing anytime soon. BTW, your opinion doesn’t matter. The only person whose opinion matters is Z’s, and he invited LeBron to attend.

  14. coryfor3 - Mar 4, 2014 at 11:33 AM

    whatever Z wants.

  15. smackingfools - Mar 4, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Do him a favor and stay home. It’s already becoming a big deal.

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