Predicting the Miracle at Lake Placid or Buster Douglas knocking out Iron Mike would have certainly been easier than pegging Zydrunas Ilgauskas as the guy that would eventually play more games than any other Cav in the history of the franchise. However, he hasn’t, not yet at least. Of course the national media is now taking off on Lebron’s comments regarding the Z-DNP situation and more specifically, his stating that Z’s individual award was more important than the Cavs vs the Mavericks. But what shouldn’t be lost in this story about DNP’s, and wins versus records, is what Z’s meant to this team, and the community that supports it. No this is not Cal Ripken surpassing Gehrig but it’s an individual triumph that should most definitely be given it’s day in the sun.
Zydrunas came from humble beginnings in far away Lithuania. He had more money than he could dream of already. He was looking down at feet that will set off metal detectors for the rest of his life and a GUARANTEED contract for its duration. Then Z showed his true colors. He went to work. He rehabbed, he rehabbed, then worked on parts of his game he was going to have to improve in order to compensate for what he’d lost in mobility. All the while over the years he’s played through insomnia and a still birth of a child and we never heard a peep out of him. In a day of modern sports when we see players gripe and nag their way off of teams because of systems and playing time or pissing matches with coaches Z offered no excuse. No distraction. As he’s said in the past Z grew from a boy to a man in Cleveland, he found his wife in Cleveland and made it his home. If their was ever someone who has displayed a Cleveland-like blue collar work ethic over the years its Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
I’m glad Lebron realizes and appreciates what this means for big Z and how much Cavs fans appreciate him. We’d also appreciate it if Lebron breaks this record as well.