OKLAHOMA CITY: When he first arrived in Cleveland, Scott Brooks needed a place to stay, so he crashed at Zydrunas Ilgauskas’ place for about a month. Brooks’ Ilgauskas stories are endless and the Oklahoma City Thunder coach was thrilled to hear the Cavs are retiring Ilgauskas’ No. 11 jersey on March 8.
“I can talk about Zydrunas for an hour,” Brooks said. “Zydrunas was one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
The Cavs on Wednesday released plans for Ilgauskas’ big night, including an extended halftime (18 minutes) to include a 3-D video of Ilgauskas’ career that will be projected on the basketball court. The pregame introductions will also include a video blending past Cavs players with the current team.
Every fan attending the game will receive a commemorative Ilgauskas T-shirt, and two 11- by 7-foot touchscreen video displays on the concourse will allow fans to replay some of Ilgauskas’ greatest highlights.
Ilgauskas played 12 seasons with the Cavs and departed as the all-time franchise leader in games played (771), offensive rebounds (2,336), total rebounds (5,904) and blocks (1,269) while ranking second in points scored (10,616).
Brooks remembers a young Ilgauskas still learning the ways of American culture — including how to drive.
“We’ve been in a few minor fender benders and I had to take over the driving,” Brooks said. “He’s out of control.
“He’s a fun guy. Fun to be around. I’m so happy for all the success he’s had in his career. I think that retiring his jersey is definitely well deserved. He’s definitely proud of the Cavaliers, and they should be proud of him.”
Tickets for the March 8 game are on sale. Prices start at $11.
Coach Mike Brown decided against turning film from Tuesday’s loss to the Toronto Raptors into the league for review. There were plenty of questionable calls near the end of the game that went against the Cavs, but Brown said after watching the film, he found plenty of other close calls that went in the Cavs’ favor.
Plus he doesn’t want his players using the officials as an excuse for losing.
“We had a chance to win last night,” Brown said. “There are a couple clips, yes, but was that the outcome of the game? I don’t know. Could be. We’re a young team and right now we have to fight through it and can’t think about us getting screwed by this person or that person.”
Brown thought the players let Tyler Hansbrough take them out of the game mentally with some of his antics, which Brown has consistently preached not to let happen.
“He’s going to flop some, he’s going to hit you, hold you, bite you, which is great. That’s his game and he’s going to be in this game for 20 years because he can do that and be effective in doing that,” Brown said. “I thought in the first half he got us out of character. He might not have scored the points, but he probably got them 6-8 points in that second quarter because he played the way he played and we let it affect us. We have to get to a point where we feel like we can control our own destiny.”
Brooks on Irving
Brooks saw all he needed to see of Kyrie Irving during All-Star weekend. He was coach of the West while Irving was busy winning the MVP award.
“Did not like what I saw at the All-Star Game,” Brooks joked. “He was phenomenal. He’s a great player. It seems like the ball is on a string, either hand. His layup game is some of the best in basketball … and his 3-point shooting. He’s really, really a talented young man.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.