It’s been 263 days since Cleveland Cavaliers centre Zydrunas Ilgauskas was scrolling through the latest sports news on his mobile phone only to learn that the Cavaliers had obtained Shaquille O’Neal for the 2009-2010 season. When asked about the news, he commented: “That means I’ll probably be coming off the bench.”
It’s been 5,010 days since the 1996 NBA Draft, when the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Lithuanian centre Zydrunas Ilgauskas with the 20th pick in the NBA draft. On the same day, Allen Iverson was drafted 1st, Ray Allen 5th, Kobe Bryant 13th, and Steve Nash 15th.
It’s been 3,370 days since Zydrunas Ilgauskas fractured a bone in his foot in a game during the 2000 season. The Cleveland Cavaliers started the season with a 15-8 record, however while Ilgauskas’ injury kept him out for the remainder of the season, the Cavs went 15-44.
It’s been 2,591 days since the 2003 All-Star Game, where Zydrunas Ilgauskas was selected to play for the Eastern Conference. Ilgauskas was selected for the game despite the fact that his teammates were so ordinary that the Cleveland Cavaliers slumped to their worst record in team history: 17-65.
It’s been 2,454 days since the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted their saviour: LeBron James was the first pick in the NBA Draft of 2003, and immediately joined Zydrunas Ilgauskas in the Cavs’ starting lineup.
It’s been 1,849 days since Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ last All-Star Game in 2005, where he played alongside LeBron James. It was the first time the Cleveland Cavaliers had two All-Stars since 1993.
It’s been 582 days since the start of the Olympic Basketball competition in Beijing. Zydrunas Ilgauskas wanted to play for his native Lithuania, however the Cleveland Cavaliers thought that it would be too risky to permit Ilgauskas to play. Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry said: ”Zydrunas is an important member of our team and has generally been a higher risk player due to his injury history. We declined consent for Zydrunas to play in the Olympics when he approached us several weeks ago…and will not permit Zydrunas to play.”
It’s been 568 days since the Lithuanian men’s basketball team finished in fourth place at the Beijing Olympics.
It’s been 7,566 days since Danny Ferry was drafted by the Los Angeles Clippers with the 2nd pick of the 1989 NBA Draft. Ferry chose not to play for the Clippers, and instead to play for a more successful and richer team for the first two years of his professional career. That team was in Italy. He only returned to America to play in the NBA when the Clippers traded him to Cleveland.
It’s been 274 days since the end of the last NBA season, a season in which Zydrunas Ilgauskas started all 65 games that he played in for the Cleveland Cavaliers, followed by all 14 of the team’s playoff games.
It’s been 263 days since Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry said that “It is a really unique and rare opportunity to bring in a player of Shaq’s caliber. We are excited to see how his presence, experience and play positively impacts our team.”
It’s been 107 days since Zydrunas Ilgauskas recorded the first “Did Not Play – Coach’s Decision” of his career. That night, he was due to break Danny Ferry’s record for having played the most games in Cavalier history, however coach Mike Brown chose not to put Ilgauskas on the court.
It’s been 103 days since Zydrunas Ilgauskas broke Danny Ferry’s record for having played the most games in Cleveland Cavaliers history. Of the controversy that brewed 4 days earlier, Ilgauskas said: “I’m going to be a bigger man and walk away from this. I know when I go to bed at night, my conscience is clear. What I’m going to do is continue to do my job. I love this team, I love my teammates; they’re like a family to me. I’m going to come every day to work and try my hardest, win some games and hope to bring a championship to this city because they deserve it.”
It’s been 36 days since the Cleveland Cavaliers traded Zydrunas Ilgauskas to the Washington Wizards as part of a deal which brought Wizard forward Antawn Jamison to Cleveland. Jamison has started 80% of the Cavs’ games since.
It’s 115 days until the end of the NBA’s July Moratorium on signings in the off season. On this date, players who aren’t under contract – free agents – are permitted to start signing with NBA teams. The 2010 crop is widely regarded to be the best group of free agents in league history, with LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki, Ray Allen, Amare Stoudamire and a number of other high-profile players potentially on the market.
It’s been 18 days since the Washington Wizards bought out the contract of Zydrunas Ilgauskas. By trading away Antawn Jamison and waiving their rights to Ilgauskas, the Wizards will save approximately $15 million in salary payments come 2010-2011, which they hope will enable them to entice at least one marquee free agent onto their team this off-season.
It’s been 37 days since Zydrunas Ilgauskas played his last game in the NBA. He has never played for a team other than Cleveland.
It’s 80 days until the estimated start of this season’s NBA Finals. Many fans suspect that Cleveland need not only to be there, but to win if their superstar in LeBron James is to re-sign with the club and remain in town instead of heading towards more money and fame with another team.
It’s 12 days until the Cleveland Cavaliers are able to re-sign Zydrunas Ilgauskas. There is a rule in the NBA that if a team trades a player, he is not permitted to re-sign with the team until he has been on waivers for at least 30 days.
It’s been 18 days since LeBron James said of Zydrunas Ilgauskas: “I want him to be back here, especially while we’re contending for a title. He’s one of the main reasons why I want to win a title for this team.”
It’s 31 days until NBA teams are no longer able to sign free agents for the 2010 Playoffs. If the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t signed Zydrunas Ilgauskas by then, don’t cheer for them. Ever.
It’s 33 days until the start of the NBA playoffs. Don’t cheer for the Cleveland Cavaliers because you think LeBron James deserves a championship. Cheer for them because Zydrunas Ilgauskas was hung out to dry for at least 48 days in the hope that Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison – who combined have served Cleveland for 4,675 fewer days than Ilgauskas – can help General Manager Danny Ferry and the Cavs to win their first NBA Championship. Cheer for them because “Zee” deserves a title as much as any player in the league.