Cleveland (WOIO) - LeBron James is eyeing a return to Cleveland -- as a spectator, not as a player. LeBron's longtime teammate and good friend Zydrunas Ilgauskas will have his number 11 jersey retired by the Cavaliers on Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.
"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."
James and the Miami Heat will travel to San Antonio to play the Spurs on Thursday and will have two days off before playing the Bulls in Chicago on Sunday. James and Ilgauskas played eight seasons together, seven in Cleveland and one in Miami. Ilgauskas retired in 2011 following his first season with Miami.
LeBron recruited Ilgauskas to come to Miami with him in the summer of 2010. The Heat lost in the NBA Finals in 2011 to the Dallas Mavericks, marking the second time the two would play in the NBA Finals together. Both of those appearances resulted in losses.
Ilgauskas currently works in the Cavaliers front office as a special assistant. This could make things difficult for Zydrunas, as LeBron has a complicated history with Cleveland sports fans, which could take attention away from Ilgauskas and put the spotlight on LeBron.
"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."
Ilgauskas was the Cavaliers first pick in the 1996 NBA Draft and played 12 seasons for Cleveland. Ilgauskas went on to become a two-time NBA All-Star after spending the entire 1996-97 season on the injured reserve list due to a broken bone in his right foot. Ilgauskas also missed considerable time between 1998 and 2001 only playing in 29 games after breaking a bone in his left foot. He was able to get back on track in the 2001-02 season and went on to play nine more seasons in the NBA.
Since 2010, Cleveland fans feelings toward James have somewhat passed. In recent games James has played in Cleveland, he has received a mix of cheers and boos from the fans at Quicken Loans Arena.
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