The Cleveland Cavaliers will retire Zydrunas Ilgauskas' jersey on this coming Saturday against the New York Knicks. This ceremony to honor Big Z's #11 was announced at the beginning of the year and has been on everybody's radar for a while now. According to Brendan Bowers at Stepien Rules, there have been rumblings that LeBron James will be in attendance for Big Z's big night.
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.
As you know, LeBron played with Big Z for seven seasons in Cleveland the two of them are at the top of most categories in the franchise's record books. Once LeBron left for the Miami Heat, Ilguaskas followed him in order to win a championship ring before he retired.
LeBron and Z are clearly very good friends and it makes sense that LeBron would want to support his friend as he is honored in the building where the two of them shared so many memories. The Heat are off for two days before playing the Chicago Bulls in Chicago, so the schedule works out for LeBron to make a stop in Cleveland.
Here's a pretty neat quote from LeBron, according to the Plain Dealer.
"I talk to Z very often, probably once or twice a month,'' James told The Plain Dealer. "He meant everything to me. When you come in as a rookie you try to find a leader, that veteran, that guy who's been around to learn the ropes from. He taught me how to be a professional on and off the floor. That's something you cannot ever take for granted."
It will be very interesting to see how the fans react to LeBron's presence if he ends up going. I feel like it would be hard for the team to ignore him. Many of the highlights from Big Z's career inevitably involve LeBron. It depends on the person, but I feel as though most fans are letting go of their resentment towards LeBron, so it shouldn't really be a big deal. Personally, I think it's pretty cool that LeBron would go out of his way to help honor Zydrunas Ilgauskas' great career with the Cavs. Hopefully LeBron isn't the only former Cavs great that shows up to the ceremony.