As reported by the PD’s Tom Reed, Big Z hangs it up.
CLEVELAND: Former Cavaliers center Zydrunas Ilgauskas told the Plain Dealer today he is retired after 13 NBA seasons and two trips to the NBA Finals.
Ilgauskas, 36, spent nearly his entire career as a Cav and helped the franchise evolve from an also-ran to an Eastern Conference champion in 2007. He spent last season with the Miami Heat and former Cavaliers teammate LeBron James.
The center owns Cavaliers career records for games played (771), rebounds (5,904) and blocks (1,269). He is second in points with 10,616.
He ranks 40th all-time in the NBA with 0.81 shots blocked per game.
“Enough is enough,” Ilgauskas said. “My body is beat up and I’m tired physically. There is no age limit, but everyone knows when it’s time.”
Ilgauskas is in Cleveland today attending the opening of an urgent care facility that’s owned by his wife. The family has two small kids, who attend school in Miami.
“I want to spend more time with my family,” he said. “I have spent the past 15 years living out of a suitcase. It’s time.”
He appeared in just nine playoff games last season for the Heat, averaging 11.6 minutes and 3.6 points.
It’s believed the player simply known as “Z” will have opportunities to work for the Cavaliers’ organization, but he would not address the topic. His immediate plans are to visit his parents in Lithuania before returning to Miami.
Ilgauskas said he’s been contemplating retirement for the past few seasons. He knew he had played his final game, Ilgauskas said, after the Heat was eliminated by Dallas in the Finals.
He’s most proud of his longevity after early foot injuries and surgeries threatened his career. He is a two-time NBA All-Star, who averaged 13 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocked shots per game.
“I will always think of Cleveland as my home,” Ilgauskas said. “This was my kids’ first home.
“There are so many great memories here and I was lucky to play in one place for so long. To experience so many lows and then so many highs was special. There were the division titles and the conference championship. The early disappointments made the winning that much better.”
One of his favorites moments was capturing the Eastern Conference title at the Q against Detroit. The victory propelled the Cavs into their only NBA Finals appearance in which they were swept by San Antonio.
“I really enjoyed those years, but I would tell the young guys not to take anything for granted. We made those trips to the playoffs and had all those national TV games, but nothing lasts forever. I was there when the arena was empty. I can appreciate the whole experience now.”
Much respect goes out to Z from CavsHistory. He was the longest tenured Cavs ever, had a great sense of humor and was part of both the lowest of lows and the highest of highs in Cavs history. Lets hope we get to see #11 hanging up in the Q.
Enjoy the below photo gallery of the big guy.
[flickr-gallery mode=”tag” tags=”zydrunasilgauskas” tag_mode=”all”]