How close are Zydrunas Ilgauskas and LeBron James?

So close that James is expected to be here this weekend when the Cavaliers retire Ilgauskas' No. 11 jersey on Saturday night. He will not have a speaking role in the ceremony, but wanted to be here for his friend. The Miami Heat do not play on Saturday and are at Chicago on Sunday.

"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.

"He was everything to me.''

Zydrunas and James played together for seven seasons in Cleveland and one more in Miami.