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If you don’t think that it’s a rarity for a Cavalier to have his jersey number retired, the last time it happened the world was in a pre-panic over the Y2K Scare. Remember that?
On March 8, the first player since the turn of the century will have his number retired at Quicken Loans Arena when Zydrunas Ilgauskas has his No. 11 raised to the rafters. The last player before Big Z was legendary Cavaliers guard Mark Price.
Price, who the Cavs acquired from Dallas on Draft Night 1986, was one of greatest players in franchise history – making four All-Star appearances, including All-NBA First Team in 1992-93, leading the NBA in free throw shooting twice and winning the Three-Point Shootout in back-to-back seasons. With the exception of the 1990-91 season in which he tore his ACL and was limited to 16 games, the Cavaliers made the playoffs and won at least 42 games in every year that Price was a starter.
Price retired tops in Cavaliers franchise history in three-point field goals made, free throw percentage and assists. He also ranks in the all-time Top 10 in steals, points scored, free throws made, field goals made, games played and minutes played.
After leaving the Cavaliers following the 1994-95 season, Price played briefly for Washington, Orlando and Golden State. But fans in Cleveland will always remember him as the sleepy-eyed, overachieving assassin and the heart-and-soul of the Lenny Wilkens Era Cavaliers.
On November 13, 1999 – during halftime of a home win over the Bucks at then-Gund Arena – Price’s No. 25 was immortalized, joining former teammates, Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance, as well as Miracle of Richfield Era icons: Austin Carr, Bingo Smith and Nate Thurmond.
Almost 15 years after Mark Price’s ceremony, the Wine and Gold will honor Big Z – who, like Price – beat the odds to achieve basketball perpetuity. And on March 8, Zydrunas will join Price and become just the seventh player in the 44-year history of the franchise to receive the honor.