MIAMI (AP) — LeBron James is considering a return to Cleveland. Well, for one night, anyway.
James has been asked to attend Saturday night’s Cavaliers jersey retirement ceremony for his former teammate and longtime friend Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who now works for the organization.
James and Ilgauskas were teammates in both Cleveland and Miami.
The timing works for James, at least with regard to the Heat schedule. Miami is at San Antonio on Thursday, is scheduled to be off Friday and then hold a practice in Chicago on Saturday afternoon in advance of its Sunday afternoon game there against the Bulls.
That would afford James plenty of time to make the short flight to Cleveland for Ilgauskas’ big night.
“I want to be there, but we’ll see. I’m not sure just yet,” James said. “But I think it’s going to be a great day for my friend, a real dear friend of mine. And I’m excited for him.”
James spent the first seven seasons of his career in Cleveland, and his trips there with the Heat have been highly anticipated by Cavs fans ever since. The venom many felt over his departure for Miami seems to have tapered considerably since the summer of 2010 — even a smattering of cheers have been heard at some recent Miami-Cleveland games — but still his presence at such an event could potentially overshadow the guest of honor.
James said if he goes, he hopes all the attention remains where it should be, on Ilgauskas.
“I hope it doesn’t, if I’m able to make it,” James said when asked if he was worried that his presence would overshadow the former center. “I hope it doesn’t. 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 finished his career as Cleveland’s all-time leader in games played, offensive rebounds, total rebounds and blocks (1,269), while ranking second in points scored.
James, who can become a free agent this summer and likely would be welcomed back by most Cavs fans, said he regretted not being able to help Ilgauskas win a title.
“Probably one of the most talented guys I ever played with,” James said.