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For James, Cleveland trip was to support Ilgauskas

LeBron Makes Big Z's Jersey Retirement

CHICAGO (AP) -- LeBron James simply wanted to support his friend, so the Miami Heat star found himself back in his old stomping grounds.

James couldn't pass up the opportunity to show his support for Zydrunas Ilgauskas. He was back in Cleveland as the Cavaliers retired his longtime teammate's jersey Saturday.

"It was special, a special time for Z, and I'm happy I was able to be a part of it," the four-time MVP said before Sunday's game against the Bulls in Chicago.

James spent thousands to charter a plane for the ceremony and kept a rather low profile, staying close to the Cavaliers' bench and taking pictures with his phone. It was a surreal sight, given the circumstances surrounding his departure to Miami four years ago - his decision and owner Dan Gilbert's infuriated letter in response.

James' relationship with the organization has improved in recent years, with former general manager Chris Grant doing all he could to mend it on both sides before getting fired a month ago. And with Ilgauskas being honored, James wanted to be there.

"He was one constant teammate I had over the years, one constant friend that I had as far as this profession," he said. "You can't really get those times back. I felt like for me to be there for eight of his years, being a good friend, there was no way I was going to miss it if I had an opportunity to (attend)."

In other news, James said he has not been medically cleared to play without a protective mask. He ditched it during Thursday's game at San Antonio.

"It's not comfortable," said James, who broke his nose against Oklahoma City on Feb. 20.

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dvdfrnzwbr March 09 2014 at 7:11 PM

The only way Lebron can cement his legacy is to come back and win a Championship for Cleveland, otherwise it will be tarnished.

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3 replies
warriorsofpeace March 09 2014 at 6:50 PM

Also Cleveland is a great city and I can't wait to move there even growing up and ALWAYS being a Laker Fan but Dan Gilbert who is supposed to be a grown adult and business man made a true jackass out of himself promising the Cavs a ring before Lebron got one. Sounded like a slave owner to me but was pure stupidity and so maybe both could have handled the situation better and let's hope that invites a new era in Cavs history. Gotta admit the Bynum choice wasn't the best option but I'm still wondering what the hell the Lakers have done too!!

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warriorsofpeace March 09 2014 at 6:43 PM

It just shows Lebron James is a true gent and fellow bball player to go there after being trashed even if he could have left on better terms. People learn as they grow up. We can't go back but we can sure move forward.

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hugh4u2 March 09 2014 at 6:28 PM

Glad he did for ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ !

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Joey March 09 2014 at 6:12 PM

james 330 on his chest once northeast ohio guy ohio will aways be home see you 2014-15

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robslay March 09 2014 at 5:56 PM

People can say what they want about Lebron, but he's the best that's ever played and he has a lot of games left in the tank... He's a class act off and on the court!

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1 reply
Richie robslay March 09 2014 at 6:53 PM

The best!!?? Jordan was the best....

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1 reply
jamesbond807 Richie March 09 2014 at 8:21 PM

Some will say Oscar Robertson and others will say Bill Russell. It all depends on who you ask. The common denominator is they were all great legends.

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jyates1936 March 09 2014 at 5:50 PM

Not a James fan but I have to admit he knows how to play basketball. Easily one of the best all round bb players in the history of the game. So many good ones thru the years its hard to pick one.

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yankeessuck1234 March 09 2014 at 7:31 PM

Congrats Z. Glad the Cavs have respect for their old players

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mazd273 March 09 2014 at 10:55 PM

If you work for a company and you get the opportunity to work for a better company that's more fullfilling to you...what do you do ? You go with the company that's a better fit for you. That's what LeBron did. Let the hate go , it'll relieve your stress.

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Bill Vaughn March 09 2014 at 9:07 PM

go play for the Boston Celtics and I may like u.

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