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LeBron gets OK from Heat to attend jersey retirement ceremony in Cleveland for Zydrunas Ilgauskas

Mar 6, 2014, 9:14 PM EDT

lebron z Getty Images

Zydrunas Ilgauskas will have his jersey retired in Cleveland this weekend, and his former teammate with the highest league-wide profile will be in attendance — despite the implications that many will attempt to ascribe to that gesture of personal support.

LeBron James will be there when the Cavaliers raise Big Z’s jersey to the rafters, in a ceremony that was specifically planned to take place during a break in the Heat’s schedule where James would be able to attend.

The Heat are officially on board with LeBron’s decision, although it will be a little bit odd for a couple of reasons.

From Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com:

Also Thursday, Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said the team has endorsed James’ planned trip to Cleveland Saturday night to attend the jersey retirement ceremony for former teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas. …

The Cavs are expected to pursue James in free agency this summer if he elects to opt out of his contract, which adds intrigue to the invitation to the event. Ilgauskas, who has a role with the Cavs’ front office, asked James to attend last year and the Cavs purposely picked a date where he could easily travel to the game.

But Spoelstra said the Heat knew about the plan months ago and several members of the team’s staff will go as well, including assistant coach Ron Rothstein, who was an assistant in Cleveland when Ilgauskas was a rookie. Ilgauskas played for the Heat in his final season in the NBA, 2010-11.

James and Ilgauskas are close, but it’s unusual for players to make arrangements like this in the middle of the regular season.

When you add in LeBron’s potential free agency this summer, along with the fact that returning to his hometown Cavaliers at some point is viewed as an intriguing option by some, his attending an event like this could potentially raise some questions.

But it would be fairly shocking to see LeBron leave Miami for anyone, much less a small-market team he already played for and was unable to win a title with in seven seasons.

This is a show of support for a former teammate, and nothing else. The Heat realize that, which is why there is no issue with LeBron heading to Cleveland to take in a game in the middle of the season — despite all of the speculation that comes with it.

  1. nflcrimerankingscom - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    “This is a show of support for a former team, and nothing else.”

    Fixed that for you.

    • apkyletexas - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:56 PM

      Looks like he took the early flight to Cleveland – another 4th period no-show in San Antonio for the King tonight.

      • apkyletexas - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:00 PM

        Goodness – 1 for 3 shooting for 2 points in a quarter the Heat lost by sixteen points. Bad LeBron, very bad.

      • brianjoates - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:17 PM

        Guess he will have to stare at his rings to figure out how to get better.

      • mytthor - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:10 AM

        “Another?” Welcome to earth. Make yourself at home.

  2. prareedoggin - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:41 PM

    There’s nothing here, idk why the article was even thought about being written, let alone actually being written.

  3. dyn0myte - Mar 6, 2014 at 9:43 PM

    So,
    you’re saying that there is a chance…

  4. sportsfan18 - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    Don’t understand why they’d want to upset LBJ. It’s a good friend of his and he wants to be there for him.

    The Heat should WANT to keep LBJ happy and he wouldn’t like it if they didn’t let him go.

    Yes, they can’t stop him (what are they going to do, release him?) but they shouldn’t have made any waves as I’m sure it didn’t sit well with LBJ.

    This possibly going back to Cleveland thing is a joke. Their owner is still the same…

    LBJ trusts Riles to do what is necessary to keep the Heat as title contenders…

  5. eugenesaxe1 - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:16 PM

    LBJ doesn’t want to walk all over Zs moment in the spotlight, but they let the whole world know he’s going to be there?

    • theblackrook - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:22 PM

      they, not LBJ. you can’t blame LBJ for what the media does. And it’s a delicate situation to go to another teams games when you aren’t on their payroll, he is contractually obligated to jump through hoops. The publicity has nothing to do with him. It ain’t coming from his camp, his agent, his publicist. Some folks just want reasons to hate people.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:37 PM

        It’s not the media. MIA made the announcement, and it isn’t their place to announce to the whole world what someone does with their night off.
        Some folks just want reasons to talk stupid.

    • antistratfordian - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:04 AM

      Hey, he can’t help being who he is. He’d steal the spotlight going to anyone’s party for anything. He shouldn’t stop living his life – or stop supporting his friends and family – just because he knows people are going to gawk at him.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Mar 7, 2014 at 12:11 AM

        True, he is who he is. An attention whoar.
        He could be there for Z, unannounced and out of the spotlight. If he shows his face during the ceremony, he hijacks the whole thing. He can stay off-court until it’s over, then be the first one to show his respect. Afterwards.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 9:37 PM

        Unannounced? This is the real world – LeBron can’t do anything unannounced. Plus, the Cavs had to schedule the event around LeBron’s availability.

        Don’t be mad, guy – it’s not that big of a deal.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:44 PM

        I’m not mad, I just don’t like disingenuous people. Or people in general for that matter.

      • antistratfordian - Mar 8, 2014 at 11:34 PM

        Well that’s obvious. I’m sure people LOVE you.

      • eugenesaxe1 - Mar 9, 2014 at 4:26 PM

        Just the smart ones that actually get to know me.

      • gofinsgoheatfloria - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:58 AM

        after which the same critics would have said he was afraid to show his face to the Cleveland fans.

    • reesesteel23 - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:26 AM

      LOL yea and if Kobe went to a former players retirement ceremony it wouldn’t be news?..Quit crying..

  6. campcouch - Mar 6, 2014 at 10:57 PM

    He’s played in Cleveland enough times since his departure and returns to the Akron area for charity events enough times that the locals (except the nuts) aren’t giving it much thought. It’s the media making a stink about it.

    • ballerstatus2014 - Mar 6, 2014 at 11:07 PM

      I don’t know about that, plenty of locals are making a big deal about it. Ticket prices are soaring now. Some have sold for over $300 apiece. But I agree the media is completely blowing this up.

  7. nilla619 - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:19 AM

    I’m sorry I’m not hating on Z but can anyone tell me why the hell they are retiring his jersey I just don’t understand it

    • Kurt Helin - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:05 AM

      He was huge in Cleveland, where through dark years he was both good on the court and very committed to the community. He was the Cavaliers. This is a good move by them.

  8. vikesdynasty - Mar 7, 2014 at 1:45 AM

    Lebron is the greatest bow down Jesus shuttlesworth

  9. azarkhan - Mar 7, 2014 at 10:58 AM

    I think it’s fantastic that Z and James are close and James will be there for the ceremony. It’s a tribute to Z that James, one of the greatest players in NBA history, will be there to honor Z’s accomplishments as a Cavalier.

  10. royalairness45 - Mar 8, 2014 at 10:07 PM

    He owes Big Z a championship after he ask BIG Z to join him in south beach…what happen? Even promised to win but He choke in the 2011 NBA finals

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