Cleveland Cavaliers to Retire Zydrunas Ilgauskas' Jersey

Grant Hughes@@gt_hughesNational NBA Featured ColumnistOctober 21, 2013

The Cleveland Cavaliers have had plenty of stars in their 43-year history, but few have been as universally beloved as Zydrunas Ilgauskas.

According to Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the Cavs will honor one of their all-time greats when they retire Big Z's number on March 8 against the New York Knicks.

It'll be an honor only six former Cavs have enjoyed: Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance, Austin Carr, Bingo Smith and Nate Thurmond, per NBA.com.

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel shared a promotional photo of what's sure to be a memorable night for Cavs fans.

Ilgauskas played a dozen seasons with Cleveland from 1997-98 to 2009-10. Though much of his early career was lost to a series of foot injuries, the Lithuanian big man beat the odds and strung together enough healthy seasons to make a real mark in Cleveland's record books.

The big man managed to stick around on the strength of his mid-range jumper and consistently excellent rebound rate. At 7'3", Big Z barely had to get off the floor to corral his boards, which was a good thing because the numerous foot surgeries he endured rendered him one of the more earth-bound NBA players in memory.

On rare, delightful occasions, he even got a little creative despite his limited athleticism.

Good times.

No other Cavalier in franchise history has more career rebounds, blocks or games played, per Basketball-Reference.com. And only LeBron James, whom Ilgauskas followed to the Miami Heat in 2010-11, scored more career points for Cleveland.

Widely regarded as one of the NBA's all-time "good guys," Ilgauskas is sure to receive a deafening ovation when the Cavs hoist his No. 11 to the rafters.  

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