It's not just LeBron's return Thursday
By: Corby Yarbrough | 12/2/10, 12:39 PM EST
What about Big Z?
Through all the boos that will head LeBron James' way Thursday night, will Zydrunas Ilgauskas be able to hear the cheers?
James isn't the only player making his return to Cleveland when the Miami Heat take on the Cavaliers.
Ilgauskas played 13 years for Cleveland and became a two-time All-Star. He is the franchise's leader in games played, rebounds and blocked shots. Even after being traded to the Washington Wizards last year for Antawn Jamison, Big Z worked out a buyout to return to the Cavaliers. He got a standing ovation when he made his way back to the Q (Quicken Loans Center).
However, he didn't get much playing time last year — pre-trade or upon his return. He was not in the Cavs' plans, so Ilgauskas looked elsewhere in the offseason. The Heat needed a center and Z needed a home. A week after LeBron announced, in an hour-long infomercial for himself, that he would be taking his talents to South Beach, Ilgauskas signed with Miami as well.
An injury to Udonis Haslem has meant an increase in minutes for the 35-year-old, who has started 10 games. In those 10 starts, Ilgauskas is playing 19 minutes, scoring 6.3 points on 55-percent shooting with 5.6 rebounds and a block a game.
From powder toss to final buzzer, this game will be all about LeBron's homecoming. James' only decision should be just how he goes about telling his new teammates that they need to step aside for the night. He needs to have one of his signature dominating nights.
Only in an atmosphere like what will occur Thursday night can a 7-3 bald man seem nearly invisible. But if you do hear a small smattering of applause and cheers for any Heat player, you will know the Cavs' faithful didn't sleep on their appreciation for Big Z.
— Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter
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