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 played with Ilgauskas as a member of the Cavaliers from 2003-10. They then spent the 2010-11 season together as members of the Miami Heat. Some of Z’s most celebrated moments obviously include James as a result.
It’s hard to look back at Ilgauskas’ career and not remember, for example, James running to hug Big Z first in celebration of the Cavaliers winning the 2007 Eastern Conference championship. It’s also difficult to simply dismiss the outstanding performance of Z’s likeness as a DVD salesman in LeBron’s Nike puppet campaign.
The Miami Heat are scheduled to play in San Antonio on Thursday March 6. They are off on Friday and Saturday before playing in Chicago on Sunday.
If James actually does make a stop in Cleveland this weekend, it will be interesting to see how that’s received by Cavs fans. There could be a contingent of fans who appreciate James paying homage to a Cavaliers’ legend like Z who is universally loved and celebrated on the night his jersey is being retired. There could also be other fans who are upset to find out that he’s there.
When Irving and company hit the floor for pregame warm-ups that night, they will be wearing customized shooting shirts in honor of Z. They will also be sporting a commemorative “Z11” patch on their jersey. The shooting shirts will be signed by Ilgauskas and each player. The jerseys will be autographed by the player who wore it during the game. Those items will be auctioned off after the game to raise money for Z’s designated charity, Care Alliance, which is pretty cool. All proceeds will also be matched by the Cavaliers Youth Fund.