Friday, October 20, 2006

Zydrunas Ilgauskas: All American

I wonder how much hate mail Windhorst is going to get for writing something positive about the big guy. My guess? A lot (there seems to be no comments allowed for this article, I wonder...)

Z played against a European team, (Tel Aviv) for the first time in while, what he think?
It was sometime in between him openly complaining about rule differences and taking a certain pride in smashing Maccabi Tel Aviv on Tuesday night. It marked the first time Ilgauskas had played against a true European team in 10 years, a reminder that he's now spent a decade calling Cleveland home. It led to somewhat of an epiphany.

``I know now I'm an American player,'' the native Lithuanian said. ``Ten years in the NBA has made me one.''

Technically, once Ilgauskas married his wife last year he became an American. He's certainly paid enough taxes to Uncle Sam to make him welcome for the rest of his life as well.

Z signed one of the first max deals a few years back and now he's into year 2 of a 5 year, $50 million deal.

Z has taken some heat (not undeservedly) for wearing down at the end last season, it looks like he's trying to be healthier:

At 31, Ilgauskas is looking forward to this season with more vigor than any during his career. Last year marked the first time since his rookie season that Ilgauskas got to experience the playoffs. Like the other experiences in his past, he's trying to learn from it.

In each of the last two seasons, Ilgauskas has seemed to wear down at the end of the season. Now on the backside of his career, he's attempting to make changes to plan for the end of the season. Cavs coach Mike Brown has promised to keep a tight hold on Ilgauskas minutes to help out.

``You've got to take care your body better. The things you got away with at the beginning of my career I can't do any more,'' Ilgauskas said. ``I've got to go to bed at a reasonable time, watch what I eat before a game. The older you get, the first thing you realize is your recovery time takes longer.''

This can only be a good thing. If he's anywhere close to 100% by the time the playoffs roll around, it's only going to help the Cavs.

Finally, I wish Z would talk to the press more, he seems to be pretty funny and who knows, it might make people hate him just a bit less.
``I'm sure my family would like it at some point,'' Ilgauskas said. ``If I have a daughter, when she goes to prom I want to intimidate her date. I don't want to have to use a cane.''

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