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Former Cavs guard World B. Free hopes to acknowledge applause from fans when he visits The Q on Nov. 30.
World premiere event at The Q
Former Cav Free plans to return to Cleveland
Monday, November 21, 2005
Plain Dealer Reporter
Philadelphia - World B. Free spent some of his most memorable times in the NBA while playing for the Cavaliers from the middle of the 1982-83 season to the end of the 1985-86 season.
Free, however, has not been honored or been back to Cleveland to watch a game for at least 15 years.
Free is scheduled to attend the Cavs' game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 30 at The Q. It is a homecoming that Free has looked forward to for years.
"I've always wanted to get back to Cleveland, but things happened, and I stayed away," Free said. "When I come out there and get into the middle of floor, and as I wave my hands up, I want the fans to stand up just like I'm going to stand up for them. If they appreciated me, they'll stand up and cheer just like I appreciated them."
Free joined a struggling franchise, and his effort and outstanding scoring ability helped the Cavs make the playoffs during his third season. The Cavs' popularity rose during Free's tenure. The Cavs drew 20,900 to each of their two home playoff games at the Coliseum in 1985.
"When I was traded to Cleveland for Ron Brewer, guys said that it was all over and that I was going to the bottomless pit," Free said. "When I got a ride to the airport, I thought there would be a whole lot of reporters at the airport, and there was only one reporter."
Free's flamboyant playing style was as colorful as the brightly colored suits he now wears as community relations director for the Philadelphia 76ers. Free was an instant scoring machine. He averaged 20.3 points per game over 13 seasons in the NBA. His best season was in 1979-80, when he was an All-Star for the San Diego Clippers and averaged 30.2 points per game.
Free legally changed his name from Lloyd to World because his game was described as "All-World" when he played on the asphalt courts growing up in Brooklyn. That's where he developed his style as one of the best one-on-one players in NBA history. He could jump, shoot with range and draw fouls. Free led the league in free throws attempted in 1978-79 with 865.
Despite his success with the Cavs, Free remains disappointed that his No. 21 jersey isn't hanging in the rafters. He hopes his return will spark more conversation about that possibility.
"My number should be retired because I helped revamp a franchise that was dead," Free said. "If you can do something like that, you deserve your number to be up there. All the emotion and sweat that went along at that time would've made someone else quit.
"But with God's help, I just stayed focused, and we had a lot of good guys come through, and once we got that combination together, it was a great thing."
LeBron James and The James Family Foundation will hold a Thanksgiving holiday giveaway from 1 to 3 p.m. today at the Antioch Baptist Church at 8869 Cedar Ave. in Cleveland and from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at Henry's Acme at 1525 Plaza Boulevard in Akron.
Sunday morning quarterback:
Just like so many Ohio State fans during Saturday's game against Michigan, James was also on the edge of his seat.
"I was worried a little bit," James said. "Of course, I didn't want to see Michigan beat Ohio State.
"They gave Troy [Smith] and that offense enough time to go down the field and score. That offense has done that so many times before. The [victory] was great. I loved it."