Even though Zydrunas Ilgaukas took one last hope at winning an NBA Championship to Miami with him last season, his body never allowed him to contribute to that cause. He battled foot injuries throughout most of last year, and saw his role on the Heat evaporate into nothing as the season went on. It was time for the guy who’s best days were seen patrolling the Quicken Loans Arena paint in Cleveland to hang it up, unfortunately, and he gracefully did just that on Friday.
He told The Cleveland Plain Dealer that enough was enough in a comment they released over a series of tweets, and that he was planning to spend more time now with his family.
This from Ilgauskas according to the PD:
“Enough is enough,” he said. “My body is beat up and I’m tired physically. There is no age limit, but everyone knows when it’s time. I want to spend more time with my family. I have spent the last 15 years living out of a suitcase.””
Even though Zydrunas’ suitcase itself is worth more than any collection of my life’s possessions I could ever stuff into mine, I can totally understand where the guy is coming from on that. I would guess that he spends that time with his family in Cleveland too, where his wife is from and he has a home, and he will be a welcomed member of the community when he does settle back in there. Ilgauskas was a beloved member of the Cleveland community during his time as a Cavalier, and he will always be one of the most popular players to ever were that uniform. He will probably end up getting his jersey retired in Cleveland one day too, and it will be a deserved honor whenever that number eleven is strung up into the rafters.
He played 12 years for the Cavs, before playing his final season out in Miami, and was an All Star twice during his career. He battled foot injuries for most of his time in the NBA, and could have probably been an All Star a few more times if he hadn’t, but that’s something we’ll never really know for sure. We do know though he was pretty good regardless of those injuries he was forced to overcome though. He averaged 13.0 and 7.3 rebounds for his career, and was also able to get himself healthy enough to be a contributing member of the teams LeBron James took deep into the playoffs a few times too. He was a serviceable starter by then, and it’s possible that Cleveland may not have gotten too or won the Eastern Conference Finals back when they did without him.
There will always be that thing about him teaming up with LeBron one last time when he did though, but who really cares about all that at this point. He was embraced by the Quicken Loans Arena crowd the two times he came in wearing that peculiar looking Heat Jersey last season, and he will continue to be a guy Cavs fans celebrate for a long time.
So congrats on everything Big Z, and enjoy retirement. You deserve it big fella, and the time is right.