Nov 17, 2012; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers special assistant to the general manager Zydrunas Ilgauskas sits in the front row before a game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Dallas won 103-95. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Ilgauskas invites LeBron to jersey retirement ceremony

When former Cleveland Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas has his number 11 jersey retired on Saturday when the Cavaliers take on the New York Knicks, a former teammate who Cleveland fans love to hate may be in attendance. According to Tom Withers of the Associated Press, Ilgauskas has invited Miami Heat forward LeBron James to the ceremony.

Brendan Bowers from also reported that there have been indications that James was invited to attend the ceremony.

I keep hearing that LeBron James will be attending Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement ceremony on March 8 at Quicken Loans Arena. So much so that I felt obligated to write about it.

According to multiple sources I’ve spoken with, there is a very good chance that James will be attending the Cavaliers game against the New York Knicks on Saturday to show support for his longtime teammate and friend. It is not believed that James will have any role in the ceremony, but there is an expectation that he’ll be in the building as Ilgauskas’ No. 11 jersey is raised to the rafters.

James and Ilgauskas spoke to the Plain Dealer about one another and it proved that they both have a high amount of respect for one another. This quote from James is especially telling:

“What he means to the franchise is everything,” James said. “Not only his commitment to the game of basketball, but his commitment off the floor as well in the community and so on. He’s seen everything the franchise has to offer, has been through multiple coaches, a couple of ownerships, multiple teammates. It’s almost like a carousel coming in and out. It was great for me to be drafted there and to be with him and see some very, very bright moments and to do it with him meant everything.

“I think it’s long overdue. Even though he’s only been retired for two years, I always knew his jersey would hang in the rafters in Cleveland. You don’t have to look at the statistics he’s put up for this franchise in his career, but just what he meant to the franchise. Every time he came into the game or made a shot you could hear 20,000-plus fans yell, “Zeeeeee.” It definitely rang not only in that arena but all over Northeast Ohio. So I think it will be a pretty pretty special moment.

As much as Cavaliers fans hate LeBron for leaving the team in the summer of 2010, this really should be a non-story. Ilgauskas and James were close in Cleveland and their friendship was part of the reason Ilgauskas joined the Miami Heat in 2010.

And because the Heat are off Saturday and play in Chicago on Sunday, it is plausible that James could be in attendance. Let’s just hope those in attendance or watching on TV focus on the jersey retirement ceremony and not on the player who worse number 23 while a member of the Cavaliers.

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Tags: Cleveland Cavalier Lebron James Zydrunas Ilgauskas

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