Zydrunas Ilgauskas Mailbag

When Danny Ferry took over as Cavaliers GM, he said one of his highest priorities was re-signing All-Star center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and he did just that. The large Lithuanian is the Cavaliers last link to their playoff past and will certainly be part of their playoff future.

We offered fans a chance to write in to our Player Mailbox and ask Z whatever's on your mind. Z answered questions ranging from his tutelage of his young protege, Martynas Andriuskevicius to what he does in his spare time. Enjoy!

First Name: Kenny
City: Berea
State: OH
Comments: Z, what is your favorite restaurant around town?

Zydrunas Ilgauskas: That’s a good question. Probably the kitchen in my house. My wife is the best cook. I love home cooking.

First Name: Zilvinas P.
City: Cleveland
State: Ohio
Comments: I have two questions; when or ever you are going to play for Lithuania In Olympics and did you or do you ever visit the Large Lithuanian Community that is in Cleveland?

Z: Well, I’ve been to the community a few times. I never call on purpose; I just show up. I live her during the season and during the summer, I’m in and out. During the season, it’s hard. I live on the west side and my schedule gets really busy and you get caught up in the everyday things, so hopefully in the future I’ll have time to get up there, because the first few times I really enjoyed it.

As far as the (Lithuanian) national team, it’s really not up to me. Insurance questions – with this new contract I don’t think a lot of insurance companies would cover my feet. There are really a lot of issues with insurance. And just my health; you know, I’ve been healthy, I’ve stuck to my regimen this year and for the last four years and I’ve been healthy (knock on wood). So I don’t want to mess with it, but also you never say never. It’s something every basketball player wants to do and like I said, I haven’t put a clock on it, but my concern right now is with the Cavs.

I don’t know if my body can handle year-round basketball and it really wouldn’t be fair to the Cavs if I played for the national team and came back and broke down. So I’m afraid of that, especially considering all the injuries I’ve had.

First Name: Quentin
City: Cleveland
State: OH
Comments: I heard that (Danny) Ferry played a practical joke on you your rookie year? What was it and how did you get him back?

Z: The one joke that we had, it was me and Vitaly (Potapenko), Danny came back after his knee surgery into the Clinic and me and Vitaly broke his crutches in half and let the air out of the tires on his car. So he couldn’t get to the airport with no crutches and no car.

And the way he got me back, one day my parents were supposed to fly into town and I went to get them from the airport and when we came back downtown to my place and while I was gone he broke into my place and put all my furniture and all my clothes and my TV into the bathroom and into the bath tub. It looked like either someone had robbed me or that no one lived there.

But it wasn’t a pretty sight when you bring your parents in for a visit.

First Name: Indre
City: Kaunas
State: Lithuania
Comments: Labas! How are you doing? My question is what else are you interesting besides basketball? What do you like to do in your free time, what are your other hobbies? (If you have a free time.) thanx! Take care and All the BEST!

Z: I like going to the movies. I like reading books. A lot of times, I'll just sit around watching TV. (I'm hooked on FOXNews and CNN.) I'm more of a homebody. Being a professional athlete, you're always in the public eye and when you have free time you like to get away and spend time with your family and just get away.

I play golf in the summer, but not much anymore. I gave up. I gave it my best shot.

First Name: Kyle
City: Medina
State: Ohio
Comments: How old were you when you could first dunk, and how tall were you at the time?

Z: Hmm. I was 15 years old. It wasn’t because of my athletic ability, it was only because of my height. It was a great feeling. I wanted to do it all day long.

First Name: Douglar
City: Cleveland
State: OH
Comments: What advice are you giving Martynas Andriuskevicius?

Z: Right now I’m trying not to burden him too much because it’s a new country and a new culture and he needs to settle in. I know what I went through trying to find a place to live, trying to find a car and learning your way around. So if he asks, I’ll give him advice, but I try not to burden him too much.

He’s young – 19 years old – but he’s not five, so I’d rather be more a friend than a father. He came to me a few times and we’ve talked. Mostly about the chances of two kids from the same high school playing on the Cavs.

First Name: Derrick
City: Winnipeg
State: Canada
Comments: How is it playing against Shaq? And how does it compare to anybody in the league?

Z: Playing against Shaq is like pushing against a concrete wall. There’s nobody like him. In all my years in the NBA, I’ve never run into someone who is such a physical specimen. I’ve never seen anyone close to him. He’s got the perfect combination of power, speed and agility.

First Name: Wayne
City: Cleveland
State: Ohio
Comments: Z, are your parents as tall as you are? Or did you just spring up some how?

Z: My parents are a little bit taller than average. My dad’s about 6-6, my mom’s about 5-10 and my sister is about 5-10, but nobody in the family is like me. My dad comes from a family with 11 kids, so I have a ton of cousins, but nobody like me. I got lucky, I guess.

First Name: Dave
City: Euclid
State: OH
Comments: Did it hurt when your best friend Sarunas decided not to sign with the Cavs because he felt another team had a better chance of winning?

Z: I was disappointed a little bit. Not in his decision, but because we weren’t going to able to play together. We were best friends since we were six years old. He was the best man in my wedding. Our friendship goes far beyond basketball. Basketball is just something that we do at the same time.

First of all, I was just glad that he was coming to the NBA, because I knew he always had the skills but the opportunity never presented itself. He became a great player in Europe and I wish him well.

Did I want him as a teammate with the Cavaliers? Absolutely. But it was Sarunas’ decision and you have to respect that.

First Name: David
City: Bethesda
State: Maryland
Comments: How was the experience of having to move to the states to play in the NBA?

Z: I had a lot of struggles at first. It was the first time away from my family and friends. I didn’t know the language that well. Right from the start I got hurt, so I couldn’t even play basketball. I was doing rehab by myself. It wasn’t easy but I had a lot of good people around me – whether it was teammates or just friends that I found or people within the organization.

I had some bad and good times, but things have been pretty good lately.