Cleveland Cavaliers to Retire Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ Jersey

by October 21, 2013


No Cav will ever be allowed to wear Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ no.11 jersey’s again — Big Z’s shirt is going up to the rafters in Cleveland on March 8 during a game against the New York Knicks. Per the Plain Dealer: “Most of the details have yet to be worked out, and tickets for that game won’t be on sale until Dec. 7. But it will be a night to remember as the team salutes one of its most popular players. Ilgauskas will be the seventh Cavalier to have his number retired, and the first since Mark Price’s No. 25 in 1999. Other players so honored include Nate Thurmond (42), Bingo Smith (7), Austin Carr (34), Larry Nance (22) and Brad Daugherty (43). Ilgauskas was a first-round draft choice by the Cavs in 1996, the 20th player taken overall, and the second taken that night by the Cavs, who drafted current assistant coach Vitaly Potapenko with the No. 12 pick. Ilgauskas, a shy, slender 7-foot-3 center from Lithuania, had just turned 21 and would lose the upcoming season with foot problems that would plague him the first five years of his pro career. He recovered well enough to make the NBA All-Rookie team in 1997-98 and was named the MVP of the Rookie Challenge in New York that season. But foot problems limited him to just 29 games over the next three seasons and when he broke a bone in his foot 24 games into the 2000-01 season, he thought his career was over and considered retirement. But he endured one more surgery and, as a result of his perseverance, finished his career as the all-time franchise leader in games played (771), total rebounds (5,904), offensive rebounds (2,336) and blocked shots (1,269) while ranking second in points scored (10,616). He was named to the All-Star team in 2003 and 2005. He played 12 of his 13 seasons in Cleveland, traded to Washington in 2010 as part of the deal that brought Antawn Jamison to the Cavs. After being waived by the Wizards, he rejoined the Cavs in time for the playoffs. He played one season in Miami before retiring in 2011 and joining the front office in January, 2012.”