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Izzo rejects Cavaliers offer, will stay at MSU

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Tom Izzo resisted the temptation of possibly coaching LeBron James to focus instead on a sure thing - building the next generation of superstars at Michigan State.

"Instead of coaching them in the NBA, I'm going to coach them in the NCAA," Izzo said last night at a news conference after he turned down a chance to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Izzo rejected the NBA in part because he was unable to speak with James, though he did speak with people in his camp.

"That was one of the key factors, 100 percent true," Izzo said. "That was not the only factor. Was it a big factor? Sure."

James' uncertain future will make for a difficult decision for any prospective Cavs coach. He is unlikely to tip his hand publicly before free agency begins July 1.

For the past nine days, Izzo has been trying to decide whether to leave the place that has been his home since 1983 and jump to the NBA to perhaps make $6 million - doubling his salary - and possibly coach one of the best basketball players in the world.

Izzo readily admitted that the idea of coaching James was very tempting.

"I thought playing one-on-one with LeBron James every day would be a good thing," he said.

Now, he's hoping James will join him for "stay-at-home month," referencing the 25-year-old superstar's uncertain future.

"I'm staying at home," Izzo said. "I hope he stays." Izzo certainly plans to.

A decade after declining a contract to coach the Atlanta Hawks, Izzo vowed he would not entertain another offer.

"I knew at the beginning that whatever decision I made would be a decision for life," Izzo said. "I am going to be a lifer. This is what I'm going to be, and I'm damn proud of it."

Izzo's decision ends a nearly two-week courtship by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who was hoping a reported five-year, $30-million contract would be enough to land the Spartans coach, and perhaps show James that he intends to remake the Cavs following a bitter postseason loss.

"The entire Cleveland Cavalier organization has nothing but respect and admiration for coach Izzo and his family," Gilbert said in a statement. "Tom is a special person in so many unique and positive ways. We only wish great things for him and his family in all the years ahead."

New York Sports