Zydrunas Illgauskas, Come Home: An Open Letter to Washington
See, we have this center.
And his name is Z.
And he's been here a long time.
And we weren't always good.
But he stayed with us.
And acted as a 7'3" cornerstone.
Even though he's half a world away from his home,
Even though he's had bad feet his whole career,
Even though he should've stopped playing basketball a long time ago because of those bad wheels,
Even when his family was in crisis, and he suffered a tragedy,
Even when his spotlight was thrown onto #23,
Even when his minutes were cut,
Even when his starting spot—the spot that's been his since the fall of '97--was taken from him,
Z never turned his back on his teammates, his organization, his community, his fans, his loved ones.
Z is Cleveland basketball—how many guys can look just as natural in blue and orange and wine and gold?
Z was here when floor-seats cost less NBA Live 98.
Z was here when the team just couldn't figure it out.
Z was here when everyone connected to the organization was frustrated night after night, year after year.
And then in 2003, a savior came, and Z was here for the turnaround.
When the Cavaliers earned their first berth in the NBA Finals, the savior jumped into Z's arms—and we cried, and we were happy for Z. Because he deserved it.
And when Z had family problems, we cried. But Z came back to us.
When Z earned his title of Cleveland's franchise leader in rebounds, and then minutes, and countless others...we cheered for him, for he deserved it.
And now that the team is right on the cusp of a world championship, we used Z's contract to acquire what might be the final piece of the puzzle. To add the final piece, we had to send him away for a while.
And Z will be happy for us, for we are better now.
But Washington please...bring back our Z. Let him come home.
He is one of us. We miss him.
Let our Z come home. Winning a championship without him would be a false title. An empty success.
We love Z. Bring him home.
It's not right, him not being in Cleveland.
He's as hard working as the blue collar people sitting in the upper deck every night, cheering Z in his final games.
Bring him home Washington. Cleveland basketball needs Z.
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