The Cleveland Cavaliers honored former center Zydrunas Ilgauskas at Quicken Loans Arena Saturday night at halftime of their game against the New York Knicks by retiring his 11 jersey.
“I want to thank you guys, the fans,” Ilgauskas said to sold out crowd at the Q. “You guys have been the main reason why I kept getting back up after all the injuries, and kept trying again. I loved coming here to work every day, no matter what our record was that year and I missed that feeling running out of that tunnel on this court every single day of my life. I love being part of this community. I love being part of this city. I just hope you feel the same way about me. Thank you again for this incredible honor and thank you for giving me a place I can call proudly home.”
“Z” also thanked current owner Dan Gibert and former owner Gordon Gund during his speech.
Former Cavaliers GM Wayne Embry (who selected “Z” in the 1996 NBA Draft) and Gilbert also spoke at the ceremony.
“I think that the No. 11 jersey will stand for the kind of values that Cleveland itself and the great people of this city and the surrounding areas stand for,” Gilbert said before calling on Ilgasukas to speak. “When [fans in the future] look at that jersey it’s going to represent integrity and character, number one. It’s going to represent hard work, lunchpail, get the job done, kind of effort. And it’s going to represent the concept of never, ever, ever, ever giving up. Ever.”
The Cavaliers roster was out on the floor during the ceremony and the team wore special warmup jerseys to honor Ilgauskas. Fans in attendance also received commemorative t-shirts upon arrival
You can view the entire ceremony in the video below.