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Sources: Ilgauskas was not aboard mysterious flight to South Florida

By Jason Lloyd Published: July 7, 2014
Zydrunas Ilgauskas remains close to LeBron James, but he was not aboard Sunday's mysterious flight from Detroit to South Florida, sources confirmed. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

If LeBron James ultimately decides to return to the Cavaliers, it won’t be because of a mysterious plane that landed Sunday evening in South Florida. Contrary to popular belief, Zydrunas Ilgauskas was not on that plane.

Neither were Cavs General Manager David Griffin nor owner Dan Gilbert.

Griffin was in Cleveland on Sunday, Gilbert was at home in Detroit and Ilgauskas never boarded the private jet that flew from Detroit to South Florida, several sources with knowledge of the situation have confirmed to the Beacon Journal.

One source with knowledge of Gilbert’s inner workings said the Cavs owner, who has a hand in more than 70 companies, has regular business in South Florida.

Twitter erupted Sunday when it was learned a Gulfstream jet registered to Gilbert’s Rock Construction Co. was scheduled to fly from Detroit to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International airport. The flight was delayed, then mysteriously rerouted to Fort Lauderdale Executive airport 13 miles away. It returned to Oakland County International airport in Pontiac, Mich. in the early hours of Monday morning, according to flight records.

Gilbert responded on Twitter when news of the flight plan was first revealed.

“Sorry folks but enjoying weather in my backyard today,” Gilbert wrote Sunday afternoon.

Who exactly was on the plane remains unclear, but it seems unlikely the trip had anything to do with the Cavs’ pursuit of James. The plane never landed in Cleveland on Sunday, according to flight records, making it unlikely it could’ve carried any Cavs officials.

Much of Sunday’s Twitter focus revolved around Ilgauskas, who was reported to be on board. The entire stir even spurned the Twitter hash tag “BringHimHomeBigZ” which was trending most of the day. But four sources, speaking on condition of anonymity given the sensitive nature of the situation, confirmed late Sunday night and early Monday that Ilgauskas was not on the plane. Three of the four sources said he spent the day in Cleveland, while the fourth source wasn’t sure where he was Sunday, but knew it wasn’t on that plane.

Ilgauskas remains close to James and certainly doesn’t need Gilbert’s jet to see him. The two created a buzz a week ago when a video of James and Ilgauskas together in Miami went viral. But one source with knowledge of the event said the two were in Miami for the wedding of former Cavs (and current Heat) trainer Mike Mancias. 

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