Birthdate: June 5, 1975
Birthplace: Kaunas, Lithuania
High School: N/A
Year Inducted: 2015
Fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers usually don’t bother trying to pronounce the name of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the 7-foot-3 Lithuanian center who played for the Cavs from 1996 to 2010. They refer to him simply as “Z.”
On a basketball court that featured many tall players, Ilgauskas stood out like Cleveland’s two tallest buildings – the Key Tower and Terminal Tower.
He was selected by Cleveland with the 20th overall pick in the 1996 National Basketball Association draft but suffered a broken bone in his foot and sat out the entire 1996 season.
He was frustrated by ankle and foot injuries that kept him from playing at full strength until 2002-03 when he was selected as an all-star.
After the Cavs drafted LeBron James in 2003, Ilgauskas scored in double figures six straight years. Cleveland became a contender, reaching the NBA finals in 2007 and the Eastern Conference finals in 2009.
Ilgauskas followed James to Miami for the 2010-11 season and retired the following September. In 843 games, he averaged 13 points and 7.3 rebounds.