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Cleveland Cavaliers to retire 'Z',s number

Sports Desk | 10/23/2013, 9:51 a.m.
Zydrunas represents the very best of how any sports franchise would hope to be represented,” said Cavaliers General Manager Chris ...

The Cleveland Cavaliers will retire the #11 jersey of Cavs legend Zydrunas Ilgauskas on March 8, 2014 at Quicken Loans Arena when the team takes on the New York Knicks, the franchise announced today. Ilgauskas was drafted by the Cavaliers in the first round of the 1996 draft and played 12 seasons for the Wine and Gold.

Zydrunas represents the very best of how any sports franchise would hope to be represented,” said Cavaliers General Manager Chris Grant. “He was a hard working competitor who persevered, was dedicated, inspiring, and was a great teammate. As good as he was on the court, he was just as good off the court and in our community. Everyone that knows "Z" also knows that he is a kind-hearted, fun-loving and honorable person. He has been a colleague, mentor and friend to many people in the Cavaliers family and we are extremely happy and grateful that he was, is, and always will be a Cleveland Cavalier. His jersey hanging in The Q will be a permanent reflection of all that he has meant to the entire organization and Cleveland.”

Ilgauskas, who is currently a special assistant to Chris Grant, has stamped his name throughout the Cavaliers record books and was a core part of some of the most successful teams in Cavs history. While ranking in the top five of numerous statistical categories, Z is the all-time franchise leader in games played (771), offensive rebounds (2,336), total rebounds (5,904) and blocks (1,269) while ranking second in points scored (10,616).

The Cavaliers chose Zydrunas with the 20th overall pick in the first round of the 1996 NBA draft. Ilgauskas logged career averages of 13.0 points on .476 shooting, 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 27.2 minutes in 843 games (724 starts).

“Zydrunas Ilgauskas is not only one of the best basketball players to ever wear a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform, he is also one of the finest human beings that has ever been associated with the franchise. ‘Z’s numbers and productivity are clear evidence of his basketball success. What is more impressive about this gentle giant is the authentic concern and interest he displayed for not only his teammates, but for everybody who worked at the Cavaliers and for the loyal fans who supported him throughout and after his playing days. 'Z' carried himself in a manner that positively impacted the fans and community that serves as the gold standard for all professional athletes. I am proud that the big fellah’s jersey is being retired and will hang forever in the rafters of The Q”, said Dan Gilbert, majority owner of the Cavaliers.

The 7-foot-3 inch former center earned NBA All-Star honors on two occasions (2003, 2005) and played in six postseasons with the Cavaliers, including playing a major role on the Cavaliers teams that reached at least the second round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs in five consecutive seasons (2006-2010) which included the franchise’s first appearance in the NBA Finals in 2007.

“I am happy and humbled by this great honor. Cleveland and the Cavaliers have been such a huge part of my life and it will be a very special and proud day for me and my family," said Ilgauskas. "I want to thank the Cavaliers and fans alike because I have been very fortunate to play here, work here and call Cleveland home.”