CLEVELAND – It was bittersweet for Cavs fans Saturday night as Zydrunas Ilguaskas’ #11 jersey was retired and raised to hang in the rafters of the Q, alongside other Cavs’ legends.
“As soon as I knew ‘Z’ was getting his jersey retired, special, wanted to be here and got the tickets right away,” Jim Jaye said.
“We just love him. He just was a wonderful player,” fan Marleah Clark said.
The 7’3″ center from Lithuania, known as ‘Z,’ played 12 seasons for the Cavs.
The Cavs snatched Ilguaskas in the first round of the 1996 draft.
“It’s kind of sad to see him retire, but it’s good, he was great for the Cavs,” Clark said.
“I really love Z. I think what they are doing is great,” fan, Tony Hemingway, said.
Z, along with his wife and two sons were at Saturday night’s ceremony.
At a press conference after the ceremony, he said, “It’s really been a humbling experience for myself to know that the city and this organization feels about me that way. So, very thankful and honored.”
Fans were given “Z” shirts with the number 11 at Saturday’s game.
“He brought it every night. When he played, he played hard and that’s what I loved about him,” Hemingway said.
“God bless Z. He’s Cleveland. He’s us. God bless him and glad to be here to celebrate it with him,” Jaye said.
Z’s friend and former Cavs’ teammate, LeBron James, was at the game; but he stayed out of the spotlight during the ceremony.
Fans can still bid on game-worn shooting shirts signed by Ilgauskas and other current Cavs players as well as game-worn autographed jerseys with the Zydrunas Ilgauskas patch.
The auction will close at 6 p.m. on March 9. CLICK to register.