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Cavs Classless Decision

December 1, 2009

First of all, I apologize for not writing anything on here in forever. I have been very busy with holidays, school, out of town weddings, and they pay me a whopping total of nothing to write here so you are all getting what I'm paid for. That being said...

Since Dan Gilbert took over this franchise the term I have most heard associated with the Cavaliers organization is "first-class." That's why it makes the absolutely inexcusably classless move on Saturday night all that much harder to fathom. I didn't see the Mavs-Cavs game. I was attending the aforementioned wedding (the bride was radiant, the groom was thrilled, it's a match made in heaven if you are wondering) but I understand Zydrunas Ilgauskas was going to set the franchise record for games played in that night. Z, one of the most dedicated and loyal players in team history. Z a guy who has said or done something even remotely embarrassing or controversial in his entire career a whopping zero times. Z who had a signed a monster contract prior to suffering a series of horrific foot injuries and could have walked off a wealthy man but instead chose to have years of grueling surgeries and rehab in order to rebuild his freaking feet so he could play for the Cavs. Z who returned from those injuries to become an two-time All-Star. Z who is the only player who had played along side LeBron James for his entire career. Z the longest tenured current athlete in Cleveland. Z who played through the darkest days in franchise history (non-Ted Steipen division) and stuck with Cleveland, Ohio! for the glory days that we see now. Z who selflessly gave up the starting center position he has held down since Manny Ramirez was hitting home runs in Jacobs Field and moved to the bench without a peep this season because it was best for the team. Z who has been active and wonderful in the community and is by all accounts a great person to be around. This very man was set to break the Cavaliers franchise records for games played on Saturday night. He was all set to become the all-time Cavalier. The 724th game played should have been a monument to Z's dedication, selflessness, perseverance, talent, success, giving, heart, and love for the Cavs franchise and the City of Cleveland. The Cavs should have started Z, introduced him out last (the spot usually reserved for a team's biggest star) given him a ten minute standing ovation, presented him with a gift, brought back as many of his former teammates as they could find to speak about him and share memories, and announce that upon his retirement number 11 would forever hang from the rafters in Cleveland as a reminder of the 7'3" gentle Lithuanian giant who gave his heart and soul to a City he grew up half a world away from. That's what they should have done.

So what happened?

DNP-CD.

Um, what?

I've never met Mike Brown. The word is he is a great guy. Everyone who has anything to say about the man seems to have all positive thoughts to share. Mike Brown blew it here. What he did was inexcusable. Unforgivable? Not even close. We're not talking about an evil man here. It was however absolutely and utterly perplexing, shocking, incomprehensible, indefensible, and frankly a little disgusting.

I don't know if it's the biggest mistake a coach can make, but high up on the list has to be forgetting that players are people first. Fans forget this too. These guys are just like you dad, brother, cousin, son, or friend. They have feelings. They care. They can be hurt. The Cavs have done such a great job to keep this in mind (see: West, Delonte). That's why the decision to not only fail to celebrate Z setting such an incredible record on the home floor, but actually not even play him, is so far beyond perplexing. When I heard about it yesterday I was legitimately angry. I want an explanation. I was a public apology from Dan Gilbert and Mike Brown. I am a big supporter of both those guys, but when you are wrong admit it and try to make it better. It was beyond Z being entitled to a celebration on the say he set this great franchise record. The Cavs practically had a moral obligation to celebrate the man who gave so much of himself to the Cavaliers and Cleveland with nary a complaint or embarrassing moment in his history. All he has done is play his ass off for the team regardless of their record and worked through immense obstacles to play at an All-Star level for a franchise and City that has a star-crossed history.

So the Mavs played small? So what????????? Z's career is much bigger than one regular season basketball game in November. Would playing Z for 10 minutes really have been enough to let Dallas erase what became a 16 point win? You think? Because Z hasn't been in the rotation this year? What? Huh? I am so angry I can no longer make sense!

All I can do is demand that the powers that be in the Cavs organization do something, anything, whatever it takes, go above and beyond, to make this right with Zydrunas Ilgauskas and his family and friends. It's your moral obligation. Please Cavs fans who read this (both of you!) express your outrage. Do it in the comments section. Write Brian Windhorst and Terry Pluto. Write Dan Gilbert. Call in to talk radio. Stand up for this player who has stood so long for all of you fans.

On Saturday night the Cavs, who seem to almost always do the right thing, didn't. That doesn't mean you shouldn't. Do the right thing. Celebrate Z.

Jack Bacevice

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