Cavs Nation Poll Question: Fav Z Moment
As the Wine and Gold prepare to honor Zydrunas Ilgauskas by retiring his jersey #11, cavs.com takes a look back at some of his most memorable moments.
In light of Z's big night, we ask YOU, the fans…
Which Zydrunas Ilgauskas' moment is your favorite?
Is your favorite moment not mentioned below? CLICK HERE to get into the discussion and tell us YOUR favorite Z memory.
- The Big Man Arrives
Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ long, proud journey with the Cavaliers dates back to June 26, 1996, when he was selected with the 20th overall pick in the NBA Draft.
The then-unknown Ilgauskas was tabbed eight picks after Cleveland’s first first-rounder – Wright State center Vitaly Potapenko – who was taken at No. 12.
Aside from the fact that he was 7-3, not much was known about Ilgauskas when he was taken with the 20th pick. He hailed from Kaunas, Lithuania – the birthplace of his idol, Blazers center Arvydas Sabonis. Before being drafted in 1996, Big Z had averaged 20.3 points, 12.8 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game for the Atletas Basketball Club in Kaunas. Read Full Story
Listen: Ilgauskas Drafted by the Cavs
11 DayZ of Z: The Big Man Arrives
- Rookie Game MVP
Like his Draft classmate – Vitaly Potapenko – the season before, Ilgauskas was selected to play in the Schick Rookie Challenge at Madison Square Garden. But he wasn’t alone in representing the Cavaliers. He was joined by 1998 Draft picks – Brevin Knight and Cedric Henderson. (Derek Anderson was forced to miss the game with an injury.) The East squad also included Chauncey Billups and Tracy McGrady.
Of course, back in the late ‘90s, scores hadn’t yet gone through the roof during All-Star Weekend and the two young squads actually battled through a defensive exhibition. The West had cut the East’s lead to three, 83-80, with 22 seconds to play, but Tim Thomas’ free throws iced the 85-80 win for the East.
The trio of Cavaliers represented Cleveland quite well. Henderson finished with 14 points and Knight led the East with eight assists. But Ilgauskas was even better – finishing 8-of-10 from the floor for 18 points to go with seven boards and a pair of blocked shots to take home MVP honors. Read Full Story
Watch Video: Rooke Game MVP
- All-Star Appearances
In 2002-03, Ilgauskas returned to his rookie form, upping his scoring average to 17. 2 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. He missed the first contest of the year, but in his second game went for 17 points and 22 boards against Phoenix and it was apparent that Big Z was back.
He notched double-figures in every game but five and had a dozen double-doubles before the midseason break and was deservedly named to his first All-Star Game, joining the East squad in Atlanta.
Ilgauskas played 81 games the following season as well, putting up solid numbers once again. And the following year, as the Wine and Gold’s revival was beginning to take shape, Z found himself back in the midseason classic – going into the All-Star Break after notching 30 points and 11 boards against in a big road win over the Lakers.
In the 2005 All-Star Game, Ilgauskas was joined by teammate LeBron James and saw more action than in his first go-round. The game was played in Denver and the East took the 125-115 victory, with Allen Iverson taking MVP honors. Big Z played 17 minutes, going 5-for-8 from the floor and 2-of-2 from the stripe for 12 points to go with seven boards and a pair of blocked shots. Read Full Story
Watch Video: All-Star Appearances
- Z Becomes All-Time Rebounder
On December 9, 2008, the Cavaliers and their starting center both shared a record-breaking night. For Ilgauskas, it was eclipsing another mark in team history – and one that itself might never be eclipsed.
In the second quarter of a 114-94 home blowout over Toronto, Big Z grabbed a Jason Kapono miss to pass Brad Daugherty on the Cavaliers all-time rebounding list with 5,228 boards.
On the night, the two-time All-Star finished with a rather pedestrian line – 13 points on 5-for-9 shooting and six rebounds – before getting the fourth quarter off with most of Cleveland’s starters.
The reason Z and Co. got (another) fourth quarter off was because of the team record the Cavaliers set that night – becoming the first squad to win nine straight games all by more than a dozen points.
Read Full Story
Listen to Joe Tait's call of Z's record breaking rebound.
Watch Video: All-Time Rebounder
- 10,000 Point Mark
The 2008-09 season was one for the record books – for both the Cavaliers and their longtime center, Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
Earlier that year, Ilgauskas set the all-time franchise mark in rebounding, grabbing his 5,228th career board on December 9 in a home win over Toronto. That win was the Cavaliers’ fourth straight 20-point win over an opponent, tying an NBA mark set by the 1995-96 Bulls.
The Wine and Gold were still cruising along when Ilgauskas hit another career milestone later that season – becoming just the fourth player in franchise history to break the 10,000-point plateau – joining Austin Carr, Brad Daugherty and his then-teammate, LeBron James.
With 7:21 remaining in the first quarter of the 102-96 victory against the Hawks on March 21, 2009, Zydrunas Ilgauskas continued to solidify his legacy – scoring his fifth point to join the quartet of Cavaliers who’d already topped the 10K mark. Read Full Story
Watch Video: 10,000 Point Mark