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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.

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