I like Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and I’m glad he’s coming back. I also think that a championship at the expense of Ilgauskas would have been hallow in some respects. But those respects would have lasted about as long as it took for LeBron to spray champagne all over Jamison’s head during the locker room celebration. I would have gotten over it. That said, I’m glad I don’t have too, and I’m glad that the crowd will be able to give Zyrdunas his due come Sunday when he returns to the Q as a Cavalier. He deserves it. But I don’t think he deserves it for playing his whole career here in Cleveland, and I don’t think he deserves it for battling through all those foot injuries. He was compensated as much as any NBA player’s been compensated during those years here as a Cavalier, and as much as he’s shown loyalty to this organization, they’ve been more than loyal to him in return. They once extended his contract early in his career after he missed the entire season with a foot injury, and mixed in raise on top of it. No he doesn’t deserve the ovation he is due to get for any of that, and he doesn’t deserve the ovation as a way to make ‘right’ however ‘wrong’ his being traded may have felt.
He deserves the ovation for other reasons. He deserves it for putting any hurt feelings aside and driving the get-a-way car for Danny Ferry as he left Washington with Antawn Jamison the same way Henry Hill and company left the airport that day with all the cash. He deserves the ovation for completing the trade that made the Cavaliers whole. He deserves it for being a piece that had to be moved, in order for this team to move forward with all pieces necessary. Sure he got an additional $1.5 mil to do so, and sure, he probably won’t average more than 10 minutes a game come playoff time, and he’ll probably be even less effective on the court in this year’s playoffs than he was last year. But all that aside, Zydrunas deserves the ovation he’s due because he came home. And if the Cavs do win that elusive championship, the celebration sure will feel better seeing him there. Z might not be a good player anymore, but he’s a good guy to be sure, and he’ll always be a Clevelander. So whether we end up needing you to play or not Big Fella, just know we’re glad you’re back. It wouldn’t have felt right without you…even if just for a second.