LeBron faces Knicks at Garden Friday night for only time this season

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives to the

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) drives to the basket against the Washington Wizards. (November 3, 2009) (Credit: AP)

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GREENBURGH, N.Y. - In an odd convergence of much-anticipated sports-related events, LeBron James will make his only appearance of the season at Madison Square Garden Friday night on the same day as the Yankees' World Series parade.

Still, don't be surprised if James - a huge Yankees fan, but he's not expected to attend the parade - does something to grab a headline or two from the Yankees. That's because those who know James say there's nothing he loves more than the spotlight, and the spotlight definitely will be on him as a sellout crowd at the Garden checks out a player they hope will be wearing a Knicks uniform next season.

"He's going to be glowing," said Larry Hughes, a friend and former teammate of James. "He'll be ready to perform. There's no question he loves the stage."

The last time James came to New York, he had 52 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds in a Cavaliers win on April 4.

"It's always tough when he comes into town, but there's a lot of arenas he comes into and has big games," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said. "He's one of the one or two or three best players in the game."

Almost everyone in the stands Friday night will be trying to envision what it would be like to have one of the "one or two or three best players in the game" playing for the Knicks - who are owned by Cablevision, which also owns Newsday.

Only a couple of weeks into the season, it appears that the Knicks are getting sick of being asked about James. Hughes says there's a lot of good-natured joking on the team about James: "If we're on a plane and there's a bad meal, someone will say, 'It would be better if LeBron was here.' Just things like that."

As for this season, the Knicks (1-4) haven't given their fans a whole lot to cheer about, and it's clear that only five games into the season, that's starting to be a source of frustration for the players.

After losing to Indiana, 101-89, on Wednesday, the team held a players-only meeting after practice Thursday. According to one player, they talked about trying to sharpen their focus and preparation.

D'Antoni had mixed feelings when he was asked if he is looking forward to playing in front of a fired-up crowd. "It will be good, but it's an atmosphere we need to create," he said. "We need to create that every night. I don't care who we're playing at the Garden; if we're playing well, it will be sold out."

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