The Cleveland Cavaliers are going to retire Zydrunas Ilgauskas' #11, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Cavs plan on doing it on March 8th when the team plays host the New York Knicks at Quicken Loans Arena.
Big Z played 12 seasons with the Cavaliers from 1997-2010 and is the franchise's all-time leader in games played. During his time with the Cavs, Ilgauskas made 2 all star games and set the franchise record for rebounds, blocked shots, and offensive rebounds.
I think this is an awesome idea and some much-deserved recognition for one of the most popular players in Cavs history. It surprised me a little bit that this will be the first number retired by the Cavs since Mark Price's #25, but it makes sense. Nobody will ever wear that wine and gold #11 again -- and that's how it should be. Ilgauskas spent so much time playing for Cleveland and truly seemed to love the city. He took out a heartfelt full-page ad in the Plain Dealer when he decided to end his career with the Miami Heat to chase that championship ring he was never able to win in Cleveland.
Ilgauskas currently works as an assistant to Cavs general manager Chris Grant and has apparently done some nice work with Tristan Thompson and the other big men on the roster. I've never had the pleasure of chatting with Big Z, but hope to have the chance someday soon.
If you have the chance to go to that game on March 8th, make sure that you cheer your brains out for Big Z. He was a class act on and off the court and a great representation of our city.