News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Metro RTA

Knight Foundation


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Sports


The bond that ties two former Cavs stars
Former Cavs star LeBron James is expected to make an appearance at Zydrunas Ilgauskas's jersey retirement 
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
When the Cavs had reached the 2007 NBA Finals, LeBron James immediately ran into Ilgauskas' arms.
Courtesy of John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer
Download (WKSU Only)

Two former Cavaliers stars may briefly reunite in Cleveland this weekend. LeBron James says he might make an appearance when the Cavs retire the number 11, worn by 7-foot center Zydrunas Ilgauskas for 12 seasons. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says the veteran Z took rookie superstar LeBron under his wing in 2003. And that bond remains.   

LISTEN: Terry Pluto on Z and LeBron reuniting in Clevleand

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (4:07)


Terry Pluto says there's a photo that captures the bond LeBron James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas shared: "After they beat Detroiti n 2007 in the Eastern Conference finals, LeBron runs across the court and almost like bear hugs Ilgauskas. And that was the first player he ran to. I think it was because he knew Ilgauskas was with them for all the bad years. Z had been in the league for seven years when LeBron showed  up.”

An unlikely bond
In many ways, Pluto says it was an odd pairing. A soft-spoken, humble 7-foot-1 Lithuanian and a 6-foot-8 19-year-old from Akron who was crowned King James at an early age.

“It’s something that probably doesn’t happen except perhaps in the military or sports, where people are thrown together. That’s one thing that sports does in a lot of ways; it really does cut through a lot of the racial lines because the bottom line is, ‘Can you play or not?’”

Pluto says LeBron grew up watching Z play “play on all these bad Cavalier teams” and he seemed to want a championship for Ilgauskas as much as for himself.

Quest for a title
But the Cavs never won one while LeBron and Z were paired on the court in Cleveland. Nor did the Miami Heat win a title in the one year Ilgauskas joined LeBron there.

Pluto says that “was kind of a miserable year for Z. Z found out he didn’t like the whole Miami/Southbeach scene. He used to say, ‘Take this the right way: Cleveland feels like home, like Lithuania.’ … Of course it’s an ethnic town and an industrial – somewhat -- place so he was very comfortable here.”

Returning to Cleveland
Today, he’s a Cavs special assistant. And he and LeBron still talk a couple times a month.

“LeBron has very good feeling about a lot of the people he played with here. None of that, by the way, is an indication that he’s going to come back here as a free agent. But I think to him loyalty to Z and a few other guys is important.”

And that’s why he may be in Cleveland to celebrate Ilgauskas’ big night.

In the long-term, Pluto advises, “waiting for LeBron is not really good for the Cleveland psyche.”

Hoping for a warm reception
Still, he hopes Clevelanders cheer for LeBron  if he does come because  the night is about Z, and I know to Z this means a ton that the greatest player in the world now, four-time MVP, would want to come back for his night. That’s a tremendous tribute.”

As for Z, Pluto says he and Cleveland fit.

“The thing about Cleveland fans, you don’t have to be a superstar to be loved. If you’re loyal and pretty good and you want to actually stay here and say nice things about the people here, they embrace you.”

Terry Pluto on Browns free agency
Other options:  MP3 Download (3:56)


Terry Pluto on what he likes from Indians spring training
Other options:  MP3 Download (2:42)


Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook





Stories with Recent Comments

An amendment to an Ohio agriculture bill may kill whole bill
I hope the Gov. sticks to his veto, Att takes more out of this state than it puts in.

From warehouse to writer: Terry Pluto's Thanksgiving thank you
Dear Terry: On my 8th cup of coffee trying to get Thanksgiving "Brunch" done ahead of time because I work nights. However, I just had to stop to contact yo...

The first big private gift comes in for the pro football HOF project
The HOF has needed a shot in the arm for many years and this project will go a long way to getting the attraction the attention it deserves (next: upgrad...

Environmental study nears completion in East Liverpool
Twenty years ago my twin sister and I protested the building and operation of the WTI facility citing several studies that indicated the risk of cancer due to ...

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University