The Cleveland Cavaliers will retire Zydrunas Ilgauskas' #11 jersey tonight. He will be among a very select group of former Cavs players to have his jersey raised to the rafters and tonight figures to be an awesome celebration of everything that Big Z meant to the franchise.
He was drafted in 1996, when I was 3 years old. He played many years for Cleveland before I was even paying attention to the NBA. But from talking to different Cavs fans, I can tell how much he meant to this team and this city. I know that tonight's ceremony at Quicken Loans Arena will do a nice job to remember people just how important Big Z has been, but let's do some of that here too. Share some of your favorite Big Z moments. They don't have to be just highlights. They can be subtle things that really stand out to you when you look back at Zydrunas Ilgauskas' career.
I only remember a couple of solid seasons from Z, but could tell that he was an important and beloved member of the franchise. When the Cavs traded him away to the Washington Wizards in exchange for Antawn Jamison, it was clear that that was a tough thing for all parties involved. Fortunately, the Cavs were able to exploit a dumb loophole in the NBA's rulebook that allowed them to re-sign Big Z just 30 days after the Wizards bought him out.
When Big Z returned to the Cavs that year, it was awesome. The crowd reacted as if he had died and come back to life. When in reality, he was gone for a month. But the fans and the franchise knew that it was a tough thing that they did trading him to Washington. And so they showed their appreciation for Big Z's loyalty and professionalism.
Tonight, they'll do the same thing. Oh and they'll celebrate the fact that he was a pretty damn good basketball player as well.
Share some of your favorite Big Z moments in the comment section below.