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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.
Both A.C. and Daugherty fought through some injury issues to get to the milestone, but Big Z was limited to just 29 games over a three-year span – 1998-2001. When he returned, Z averaged double-digit scoring for the next eight years of his career.
On the night the Large Lithuanian broke the 10,000-point barrier, the Cavaliers topped the Hawks at The Q to improve their mark to 56-13 on the season and 32-1 at home – including 16-2 after the All-Star Break.
With 7:21 remaining in the first quarter of the 102-96 victory, Zydrunas Ilgauskas continued to solidify his legacy – scoring his fifth point to join the quartet of Cavaliers who’d already topped the 10K mark.
“Obviously, if I had not missed so many years because of injuries, I would have had more points,” said the two-time All-Star. “I consider myself lucky to still be playing basketball, so I’ll take this one and not ask for too much.”
Big Z would go on to scored 616 more points with the Wine and Gold – good for second-best in team history behind James (15,251) ahead of Daugherty (10,389) and Carr (10,265). Mark Price finished 457 points shy of the 10,000-point mark.
For a guy whose career could have stopped at 1,215 career points after a difficult start, Big Z persevered to again rewrite the Cavaliers history books.
Watch Video: 10,000 Point Mark