When Cleveland upset Detroit to get to the NBA Finals in 2007, one of the first teammates LeBron James looked for was center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who had been part of the Cavaliers during some dark years.
Part of James disappointment over the 2011 NBA Finals loss to Dallas his first year with the Heat is that it left Ilgauskas without a title.
Ilgauskas retired before the next season.
On Saturday, Cleveland will retire his number at halftime of the game against the Knicks. The Heat will be in Chicago with the day off. James wants to attend but isn’t sure he’ll be able.
“I give a lot of credit to what I was able to accomplish to him,” James said Monday before the Heat played the Charlotte Bobcats.
When James joined Cleveland as an 18-year-old, he saw Ilgauskas as an example of how players should behave on and off the court.
“One of the most talented guys I ever played with,” James said. “His ability to shoot the ball, ability to pass and rebound. There weren’t too many I played with who could do that.
“For him to come back from so many foot surgeries and still play at a high level once I got there. It’s a testament to his strength and to his body of work.”
Wade a scratch
The Heat play at Houston Tuesday. Perhaps guard Dwyane Wade will, too. But Monday night, the Heat scratched Wade.
“There’s not a setback, we are just being proactive in our facility,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “Putting him on a program and we’ll see how he feels [Tuesday].”
Wade played five consecutive games since being scratched against the Suns and dressing but not playing against Golden State, both Heat wins. Tuesday, DeAndre Liggins replaced Wade in the lineup and Toney Douglas started in Wade’s place.
Question: which Heat coach has been honored as Eastern Conference Coach of the Month the most times?
Answer: Spoelstra, six, after he was so named Monday.
The Heat went 9-1 in February with six of the wins coming on the road.