Categorized | Sports

Raising a Banner in Cleveland

By: David Wysong

  The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t had many Hall-Of-Fame type players in their franchise history. Saturday, March 8, they retired a player that was just that: Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

    Ilgauskas, also called “Z”, was originally from Lithuania and came to the NBA and played for the Cleveland Cavaliers  in 1996. He played for them until 2010.

    He finished his career with the accomplishments of being a two-time All-Star, being on the NBA All-Rookie First Team, and he was the NBA Rookie Challenge MVP. He also holds the Cavaliers All-Time records for blocked shots, total rebounds, offensive rebounds, and games played. He was a key-component to the Cavaliers first trip to the NBA Finals in 2007.

    A teammate of Z’s that was another key-component to get the Cavs to the NBA Finals was Lebron James. He left Cleveland in an ugly way, and Cavs fans haven’t respected him since.

    Since Lebron has left the Cavs have been to three NBA Finals and has won two. Reports earlier last week came out that Lebron would be at the Cavs’ game Saturday to support Z. There were very mixed emotions from Cavs’ fans. Many fans were excited thinking maybe he will come back to Cleveland, and others hated the thought of seeing him.

    The ceremony for Z Saturday night was outstanding, though. There was a 3-D video that everyone at the game got to see, Z gave a heartfelt speech, there were many former teammates there other than Lebron James, and everyone watched Z push a button that raised his banner to the rafters.

    The fans and everyone involved did an outstanding job on not focusing on Lebron returning to Cleveland that night. Lebron attended the ceremony along with the game but everyone still kept their focus on big Z.

    Z may have not been a 15 time all-star like another great center, Shaquille O’Neal, but he came to work everyday playing hard and fighting for the Cleveland Cavaliers to win a championship. That’s all you can ask for in a player and that is why his number is retired in the Cleveland Cavalier organization.

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