Zydrunas Ilgauskas: The Ups and Downs of the New Mr. Cavalier

December 7th, 2009 by Dan Delagrange Leave a reply »
Why do bad things happen to good people? For Cavaliers center and Cleveland fan favorite Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the answer may never come.

Ilgauskas, who recently became the team's all-time leader in games played (724), has endured a career that has become an paradoxical mix of success and failure, pain and joy, and tragedy and exhilaration.

Since being selected by the Cavs in the first round of the 1996 NBA Draft, the then-gangly Lithuanian youngster has become a consummate professional and one of the few true "nice guys" in professional sports.

Today, the bald, slow-footed Cavs reserve is loved by the franchise's fanbase not only due to his steady basketball contribution of points (14.2 career average), rebounds (7.8), blocks (1.7), high free throw percentage (78 percent), and the occasional Jason Kidd-esque pass, but also because of his amiable personality, dedication to Cleveland, and perseverance through a difficult yet rewarding stint with the Cavaliers.

Big Z's laundry list of unfortunate mishaps begins with the seemingly endless foot injuries and surgeries that hounded him early in his career and forced him to miss the 1996-'97 a ...

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