LeBron James may be making his first non-contractually obligated return to Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday, March 8. The occasion? A day full of festivities honoring James’ ex-Cavalier teammate Zydrunas Ilgauskas, which will then be capped off by the hanging of Big Z’s Wine & Gold No. 11 in the rafters during the evening’s contest.
A number of Z’s former teammates from his 12-year tenure in Cleveland have been invited to join celebrating his career, including LeBron. Now, many reports have labeled James’ attendance as “brief” but “expected” nonetheless. And he is not denying it either.
“I want to be there, but we’ll see,” James told reporters prior to his 61-point explosion Monday. “I’m not sure just yet.”
But if LeBron were wise, he would stay clear of The Q on March 8. That day is reserved to highlight the prolific career of the Lithuanian seven-footer. If LeBron did decide to attend, too much attention would be focused toward him, instead of the man he showed up to honor.
When James came into the league, Ilgauskas and the LBJ began developing a relationship. Z was crucial in mentoring the young rookie and helping him grow into a professional. Presently, they continue to be good friends, as they still talk “once or twice a month,” according to LeBron.
I don’t doubt that James has good intentions by wanting to be present for the ceremony. I understand that he wants to help celebrate the career of a Wine & Gold legend and a good friend, but he must understand what his presence does. By showing, whether he likes it or not, he jumps into the limelight. The national media will cover Ilgauskas’ jersey retirement ceremony now, except they won’t be covering Z—just LeBron’s voluntary return to the city he turned his back on nearly four years ago.
Don’t do it, LeBron. Don’t be in Cleveland on Saturday. Call Zydrunas and send him your best wishes. If you are at The Q on March 8, you’ll have turned your back on your “good friend,” as the story will no longer be about the No. 11 jersey traveling to rafters. It will be about you returning to Cleveland. Please, stay in South Beach and watch the game on TV. Do your part in celebrating Z’s career by not attending the ceremony to ensure it remains about him. After everything he’s done for the city and franchise, he deserves it.