April 23, 2014

Statistical observations following another non-playoffs Cavs season

NBA: Philadelphia 76ers at Cleveland Cavaliers

Remember how much fun the playoffs were? From 2005-2010, spring time basketball in Cleveland was fun and exciting. If you recall, there were chants of “Eric Snow for MVP” one year – perhaps my favorite sports memory ever – and that’s how in love we once were with playoff basketball.

If the past few days of amazing back-and-forth games showed me anything, it’s that as a fan, I yearn to be back in that position again soon. Very soon.

As a stats-minded individual, I also know that the Cavaliers haven’t had it that bad … yet. Missing the playoffs four straight seasons isn’t that rare in the NBA. Several teams are on longer droughts currently. Heck, imagine how difficult life would be out in the Western Conference.

Continuing with that stats-centric hat, here are six observations I’ve been mulling over from the conclusion of this funky #seasonofhuh. Before we get started, go check out the pieces from my WFNY colleagues Ben Cox and Andrew Schnitkey so far. Both were outstanding.

[Read more...]

Cavs’ David Griffin: “I’m not going to campaign—I’m not running for mayor”

Cavaliers' GM David Griffin

The message was officially delivered. The Cleveland Cavaliers are done “acquiring assets.” Just days after the franchise wrapped up a 33-49 season, one that left them just short of their goal of the Eastern Conference Playoffs, acting General Manager David Griffin sat in front of the local media and ensured them that, after years of rhetoric revolving around assets and banter that treated players as if they were poker chips, the team is shifting into “targeted acquisition mode.”

Expected to have $26 million in salary-cap space this off-season, Griffin pulled no punches when it came to addressing the Cavaliers’ current weaknesses. He referred to several instances over the course of the 2013-14 season where his team was “selfish” and did not trust one another. Specific to the roster, Griffin stated that the Cavs need to—are you ready for this?—get bigger, get smarter (have players with a higher basketball IQ), shoot better, and be tougher.

Though the team is also armed with the ninth-overall pick (assuming the lottery plays out as it stands), Griffin said that the Cavs will no longer look to get lucky in the draft. Though they have plenty of areas for improvement, he repeatedly said that the team’s success will hinge upon how players fit within the confines of the current core. “There is nothing that can be done to an NBA roster that we are not capable of doing,” Griffin said of the flexibility he is afforded.

The overarching question will be who, whether it is Griffin or an appointed General Manager, will be making these impending decisions as the team continues on. Griffin is currently operating as “Acting” General Manger, stepping in for Chris Grant who was fired earlier this season and  though he hasn’t gotten official word from Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert, Griffin spoke confidently, stating that he is on the same page with those making the decisions.

“I feel no great sense of wonder,” Griffin said of his current title and suspiciously quiet owner. “I feel very confident ownership and myself will be moving in the same direction. But I also don’t need to hear from them to know that I need to get better.

“I’m not going to campaign. I’m not running for mayor. Our results are totally unacceptable. I understand what we need to do to get better. And if Dan and his ownership group are of that mindset, we’re going to get better together.”

The most popular professional athlete in Ohio is…LeBron James?

Wut

Using Google search data, the blog for BestTickets.com has derived the most popular athletes, sports, positions, and teams on a state-by-state basis. While the NFL is the top dog in much of the United States, the most searched-for athlete in the state of Ohio is none other than LeBron James.

James is actually the runaway leader in the United States, being the most searched for in 23 of 50 states. The fact that James is from Ohio, and had once played for the Cleveland Cavaliers, should only serve to cement him as the leader in the Buckeye State.

There is plenty of data to dig through in this piece. For instance, what states don’t have football as a priority? What teams are the most popular in all of the four major sports? I would have never guessed the top-searched NFL team. Nor would I have put the Cavaliers ahead of the several playoff teams, including the Toronto Raptors and Brooklyn Nets. The Tribe in the top 10? Also surprising.

Perhaps the most interesting, the player who rounds out the Top 10? Former Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. If anyone could bump the Browns up their respective list, it’d be this kid.

Numbers Don’t Lie: Cavs took huge steps defensively in 2013-14

kyrie_brown

Across from the coach’s office within the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room is a poster-sized sheet that serves as a reminder for what this team had set out to accomplish heading into the season. All 30 NBA teams, listed in order by opponent field goal percentage—a widely-used gauge to determine defensive prowess in a game that can vary widely in the way of pace of play. Last season, when Byron Scott took that final walk, the giant metal door clicking behind him, the Cavs were listed 30th. When Mike Brown was reintroduced just days later, the message was clear: If the Wine and Gold were going to improve, it would be through defense. And while they did not make the playoffs, a goal that was clearly disseminated from the top, the team did improve substantially on the defensive end, finishing 12th in the league in opponent field goal percentage with a mark of 45.2.

Other defensive statistics also show marked improvement. After finishing the year 25th in points allowed per game in 2012-13, this year’s unit finished 16th. The Cavs (perhaps surprisingly) had the fifth-lowest average for opponent points in the paint (38.9) and had the seventh-lowest average in fastbreak points (12.1). They finished 2013-14 17th in defensive efficiency (104.8 points allowed per 100 possessions), one year after finishing 26th (106.9). Where they failed, at least in the way of being among the top third of the league, was in three-point percentage, finishing 22nd (.367). 

Offensively, the team was a mixed bag as they ranked 22nd in scoring (98.2) and 27th in field goal percentage (43.7) after ranking 19th (96.5) and 29th (43.4) in 2012-13. The Cavs ranked 17th in pace of play this season—a mark that by no means has a direct correlation with success—after finishing last season 12th. They finished the year 23rd in offensive efficiency (101.3). In 2012-13, they were 23rd as well with a mark of 100.8.

Statistical improvements or regressions, at least when it comes to team-wide output, can rarely be linearly extrapolated into subsequent years. They’re largely a function of the individual players and their fit within the system. Anderson Varejao will be a year older with a partially guaranteed deal. Much will change between this unit and the one which will take the floor this October.

Many of the numbers listed above, while improvements, represent a jump to league average. The LeBron James-led Cavalier units under Brown were frequently among the best in the league. It’s clear that the team made strides defensively as compared to a year ago—a goal of theirs heading into the year—which was the goal in bringing Brown back for his second tour. If he is retained beyond this summer, it will be for these reasons, with the hopes and conviction that that poster across from his office displays something even more favorable come this time in 2015.

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

Dion Waiters is Waiting For Next Year

waiters sullinger

In his exit interview with the local media on Thursday morning, Cleveland Cavaliers guard Dion Waiters discussed the offseason and what the team’s goals are over the next 12 months.

“I’ve never been to the playoffs,” said Waiters. “I’m very hungry. It’s why I play every game like it’s my last. Hopefully one day—next year. Next year, reaching the playoffs—that should be everyone’s main goal. I already know what it’s like, just by the jersey retirement for [Zydrunas Ilgauskas], how the fans were. So, just imagine the playoffs.

“We all have to come in with one mindset. We can’t worry about individual goals, individual accolades. It has to be a team thing, a team mind set, and everything else will take care of itself. That’s the biggest thing.”

Waiters plans on spending the next several weeks with his son before getting back to the grind. Several players on the Cavaliers—including Waiters, in efforts led by Jarrett Jack—have plans to watch NBA playoff games from the stands over the coming weeks as a means to get a taste for the atmosphere and energy that comes with making the postseason. “I want to see how teams win,” said Waiters.

Big changes coming to Cavs…Maybe

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, Chris Grant

So we know that Dan Gilbert is none too pleased. The Cleveland Cavaliers’ majority owner is reportedly fuming, having set his sights on the Eastern Conference Playoffs this season, only to fall just short in a year when countless teams around him missed the playoffs intentionally. Gilbert has a reputation for being short-sighted and reactionary, supported by recent firings and re-hirings. With the Cavs on the outside looking in, many assume that more of the same will be on the way, but FOX Sports Ohio’s Sam Amico says that while some changes are going to happen, no decisions have been made regarding the front office, head coach or roster.

How displeased is Cavs owner Dan Gilbert that his team missed the playoffs? Well, “enraged” was the word most used by sources to describe Gilbert’s overall feelings. “Inside the organization is like a time-bomb waiting to go off,” said one.

That doesn’t mean Gilbert will overreact and start firing everybody, sources cautioned. It does mean he is expected to strategically (and perhaps slowly) find the best fit for running the basketball side of things this summer.

That could mean keeping interim general manager David Griffin and giving him the job on a full-time basis. Sources said Gilbert has been impressed with the improved culture in the Cavs’ locker room since Griffin took over. However, Griffin landing the gig is still not considered a definite. One source close to the situation described the idea of keeping the current front office entirely intact as “shaky.”

Amico expands on the status of head coach Mike Brown, which is expected to be determined this summer. The team owes Brown four more years of a five-year, $20 million deal and is less than a year removed from a press conference where the head coach was the definitive man to lead the team for the second time. Apparently, Glbert is very unhappy with the fallout of the Luol Deng deal, especially with the growing belief that the award-winning small forward will be playing elsewhere next season.

And the priority? Make Dion Waiters Waiters and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving work as the long-term starting backcourt. Just who will be tasked with executing on this plan will apparently be the giant variable.

Vìva uncertainty!

(AP Photo/Jason Miller)

Luol Deng win’s NBA’s Citizenship Award

luol deng sixers 

Cleveland Cavaliers small forward Luol Deng has been voted the 2013-14 winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award which is presented annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association to the player, coach or trainer who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community.

“It’s an honor to be recognized for any award, but this one is special because it represents who I am as a person and where I came from,” said Deng via press release. “What I’m most proud of is that my family can look back after my career is over and realize that I was able to make a difference on and off the basketball court.  That is something that tells the true story as to who I am as a person, someone who cares about his community and wants to improve the lives of others.”

Deng recently recorded a public service announcement for the EnoughProject.org, urging peace during a time of renewed conflict in his native South Sudan. This is his latest contribution to a number of international causes, including The Luol Deng Foundation, which is a global non-profit organization that uses basketball as a platform to give hope to those in Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the U.S., Deng’s work has been focused primarily on the communities in which he has played, Chicago and Cleveland.  He has funded Thanksgiving and holiday events that provide meals and toys to the underserved and has also served as a mentor to the “Lost Boys of Sudan.” He is also an avid supporter of the NBA’s Basketball without Borders program and has participated in PSA’s to raise awareness for World Malaria Day.

“The breadth and depth of Luol Deng’s community service elevated him from a deep pool of committed candidates,” said PBWA President Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “But, really, all the candidates and their communities are winners.”

Photo: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Kyrie Irving continues to screw with Cavs fans

DSC_0568

With less than a week remaining in the regular season, Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving continues to play games with Cavalier fans who are concerned about the All-Star point guard’s future with the team. This past weekend, Irving vaguetweeted in a way that would make a teen girl blush out of admiration, putting the following tweet in quotes.

A quick Google search leads to nothing in the way of a well-known (or even obscure referenced) quote. Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Jodie Valade dug into the ever-enlightening pages of UrbanDictionary to find out that “jumping the fence” means “the moment when you are trapped in a bad situation, and you are quickly trying to get away, hoping things won’t get worse.”

Earlier this month, the point guard was the subject of an interview wherein he was not painted in a pretty light, one which stated that “his camp” had been intimating that he yearns to leave Cleveland. The rumors were quickly refuted, Irving stating that reporters should “be man or woman enough” and ask him directly. Well, on Monday, Irving was questioned about the tweet, to which he responded, “I’m going to let you dissect that. I’m just going to let you dissect that. Whatever you want to think about that.”

The Cavaliers could be eying up a ninth-place finish in the Eastern Conference, placing them with the worst odds at the NBA Lottery and one spot outside of the postseason—this is commonly known as NBA Limbo. Irving is expected to be offered a contract extension this summer, which he could accept or decline. He’s just 22 years old, has all the talent in the world, and continues to be scrutinized every step of the way. He can will his team to victory one night and take the next one off, expecting nothing in the way of direct or indirect recourse. He holds most of the cards, but has grown increasingly frustrated when being asked to show them. Whatever he meant by that tweet, it’s going to be a long two months.

(Photo via Scott Sargent/WFNY)

Cavs fans, brace yourself for the Joe Dumars rumors

The wheels are officially in motion. With news coming out that Joe Dumars will resign from his position as Detroit Pistons team president, it shouldn’t be too long before the long-time Detroit native starts to see his name turning up more frequently with regard to (fellow Detroiter) Dan Gilbert and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers are currently being run by David Griffin, who assumed the position of acting general manager following the firing of Chris Grant earlier this season. Not long thereafter, ESPN.com writer Brian Windhorst was a guest on Detroit Sports 105.1 with Matt Dery and mentioned that Dumars and Gilbert are neighbors and show a lot of “mutual respect” for one another. In what could serve as a bit of corroboration, HoopsHype tweeted that Dumars was “rumored to be in the mix” for the Cavs’ GM job, while also mentioning how awful he was in Detroit.

Dumars has spent 29 years with the Pistons franchise, as both a player and an executive, and has had a hand in every Detroit title. Conversely, Dumars drafted Darko Milicic in 2003, gave $90 million to Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon in 2009, and signed high-priced free agents Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings this past offseason, all leading to a 28-49 record in a dreadful Eastern Conference. This was once the guy who was going to land LeBron in 2010—he “had it all figured out.”

Things could be worse. After all, Windhorst also linked Cleveland to…Isiah Thomas.

(Photo: Clarence Tabb, Jr./Detroit News)

Kyrie Irving takes to Twitter to defend himself against reports

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

(AP Photo/Michael Perez)

Cleveland Cavaliers point guard took to Twitter following his team’s brutal loss to the Atlanta Hawks and shot back at reports that he, once again, wants out of Cleveland.

ESPN.com’s Brian Windhorst, in an interview with Cavs: The Blog, stated that Irving’s “camp” has been leaking desires of the player wanting out of Cleveland “for years.” Windhorst stated that the All-Star point guard is not a fan of head coach Mike Brown and was not a fan of Chris Grant—the latter who was fired mid-season.

There has been smoke billowing out of the Irving rumor mill for most of the 2013-14 season. Unfortunately for the player and fans alike, the true “clarity” can’t come until July if or when he signs a contract extension.

Kyrie Irving mastering the art of “The Return”

Kyrie Irving Orlando Magic 20140402

It was just three years ago, almost to the week back in 2011, when an 18-year-old Kyrie Irving took to the basketball floor for the first time in what was a three-month span. Having sustained multiple torn ligament in his right big toe, Irving, one of the college game’s most heralded prospects, rejoined his team during the men’s Division I tournament, one of the most celebrated win-or-go-home stretches of play in all of sport. As Irving’s teammates filled in admirably in his absence, lifting the Duke Blue Devils to the top seed in the region, questions surrounded his decision to return—team chemistry notwithstanding, with an NBA paycheck in his not-so-distant future, was Irving risking too much by lacing them back up?

[Read more...]

Daniel “Booby” Gibson setting his sights on a return to the NBA

Daniel Gibson_LG

As the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves fighting for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, one of their long-time guards is working on getting back in to the NBA after watching the entire season unfold from the outside. In an interview with Baller Mind Frame Gibson discusses his most recent injury, his desire to take a year off and his plans to get back into the league he had called home since being selected in the second round of the 2006 NBA Draft.

BMF: How much does watching those kids play for your AAU team make you want to get back on the court?

Gibson: (laughs) Listen! I decided at the beginning of the year when I injured my foot again to take the year to get my mind right and see if this is still what I want to do. That’s what drives me. These kids look up to me like I’m their Michael Jordan. It inspires me to get back in the gym and get back out there.

Really, March Madness kind of put it over the top. I’ve been getting myself back in the right frame of mind to make a run at getting back in the league next season.

BMF: Do you think it will be a challenge getting back to the league?

Gibson: I definitely have to prove myself over again. These teams want to know why. Teams were contacting me at the deadline to see if I wanted to comeback for a 10-day contract. I was really hiding out. Nobody really knew what was going on with me. So I know I got to come back and prove myself. I know it will be difficult, but with the mind frame that I’m in, I know I can accomplish whatever it is I want to do.

To our knowledge, this is the first report of Gibson receiving calls regarding 10-day contracts. He’s been spending a lot of his time outside of the league working with kids in AAU formats, tweeting and uploading photos to Instagram, but there hasn’t been much in the way of his name being among the headlines.

Knowing what Booby is capable of, the fact that he’s received some interest from teams isn’t all too surprising. Between the personal problems and injuries that Gibson had dealt with during his tenure with the Cavaliers, he’s certainly one player Cleveland fans could rally behind if he were to make a comeback—especially if it’s another team making the financial commitment.

Photo: Scott Sargent / WFNY

Cavs front office comes in 27th in ESPN’s #FrontOfficeRank

Dan Gilbert, Mike Brown, Chris Grant

This seems like forever ago.

You’ve seen #NBARank. You’ve seen #CavsRank. Now, we have #FrontOfficeRank, ESPN’s version of the player-based project that pits all 32 NBA front offices against one another. ESPN scribes were asked to rank every team’s owner, chief decision maker and head coach from 1-to-10. The votes were tabulated, averaged, and listed in descending numerical order, one which found the Cleveland Cavaliers ranked 27th overall (3.75), bettering only the Detroit Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and New York Knicks.

To little surprise, the perrenial playoff teams litter the top of the list with the San Antonio Spurs (9.45) edging out the Miami Heat (8.56) by nearly a full point.

What will be interesting will be the details that will be provided later this week. Was the voting done prior to Chris Grant being relieved of his duties? It certainly appears that it was finalized before Phil Jackson was hired by the Knicks—or was it? What are the overarching feelings surrounding Dan Gilbert? Do they feel Mike Brown is going to be one-and-done? Does any of this even matter?

As Royce Young of DailyThunder pens best, the entire process seems a bit arbitrary, filling space between now and the end of the regular season. Discussion for discussion’s sake. Stay tuned.

(AP Photo/Jason Miller)

 

 

Has Dion Waiters (finally) arrived?

671630

After a season rife with rumors of trades and fistfights, is this—finally—Dion Waiters’ coming out party?

Dion Waiters stood outside of his locker, squinted his eyes and shook his head as a half-smile-half-grimace formed on his face. It was early January, just days after the calendar turned to 2014. The Cleveland Cavaliers had just lost a heartbreaker to the Indiana Pacers, contenders for the NBA title, and he came pretty damn close to pulling off a miracle that would have propelled his name even further up the ranks in the minds of Cavalier fans. The Cavs were playing in their third game without All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving who had fallen victim to a bruised knee. In Irving’s absence, Cavs head coach Mike Brown opted to go with Matthew Dellavedova at point guard, an undrafted rookie out of St. Mary’s who had grown a bit of a cult following due to his never-ending hustle, rather than Waiters, who was drafted fourth-overall just a year earlier. [Read more...]

Cavs officially sign Seth Curry to a 10-day contract

 Seth Curry

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. As has been rumored for a good portion of the week, the Cleveland Cavaliers have officially inked former Duke Blue Devil Seth Curry to a 10-day contract.

Curry has appeared in 36 games (35 starts) for the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA Development League this season, averaging 19.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.4 steals  in 35.2 minutes per game. In his last six games for the Warriors, the 6-1, 180-pound guard from Duke averaged 20.8 points and 5.3 assists, while shooting . 476 (20-42) from three-point range. For the season, he has posted 21 games of at least 20 points, including a career-best 36 points in his first game with the Warriors on Nov. 22 versus Austin.

Curry, the brother of Wariors guard Stephen, was originally signed by the Golden State Warriors on August 23, 2013. This season, he was signed by the Memphis Grizzlies in December and waived in January. He appeared in one game for Memphis.

 To create the roster spot for Curry, the team released forward Shane Edwards from his 10-day contract that was set to expire on Friday. Curry will be available for Saturday night’s game against the Houston Rockets at The Q. He will wear jersey number 31. No word as to if this is in homage to Ricky Davis, Scot Pollard or Jawad Williams.

Image: Michael Conroy/AP

Indians have 2nd-best catchers, FiveThirtyEight and Blake Bortles… While We’re Waiting

WFNYBanner www

FanGraphs: Indians have 2nd-best catchers, 17th-best first baseman. If you are into baseball stats, you should not only be perusing all of the tools on FanGraphs, but you also should keep an eye on their content. During the 2013 season, their writers had major crushes on both Corey Kluber and Danny Salazar. Now? It appears they’re pretty high on Yan Gomes. [Read more...]

NBA Rumors: Cavs looking to sign Seth Curry to 10-day contract?

Seth Curry

While this can only be classified as a rumor, there appears to be some smoke billowing out of a potential 10-day contract between the Cleveland Cavaliers and guard Seth Curry. Initial reports of Curry joining the wine and gold started to creep out early Wednesday morning and have picked up some steam since.

Leung’s tweet suggests that Curry has already inked a contract, but there’s been no announcement from the team. Curry, brother of Warriors star Stephen Curry, had a brief stint with the Grizzlies earlier this season after going undrafted this past summer. Curry was also in camp with the Warriors in the fall, but he failed to make the opening-night roster. The 6-foot-2-inch guard is averaging 19.4 points and 5.9 assists in 35.3 minutes per game for the Santa Cruz Warriors. He was also the namesake for (Grantland’s) Shane Ryan’s first home as a blogger—so there’s that.

The Cavs have a full 15-man roster, though half of the 15 are experiencing some sort of ailment1. They could terminate their 10-day contract with forward Shane Edwards to make room for Curry or could simply wait for Edwards’ deal to expire this Friday night. With expectations of Kyrie Irving (who played with Curry at Duke in 2010-11) missing the rest of the regular season with a biceps injury, Curry would provide much-needed depth behind Jarrett Jack, Dion Waiters, Matthew Dellavedova and CJ Miles.

Photo: Michael Conroy/AP

___________________________________________________

Footnotes:

  1. Seriously. Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett, Luol Deng, CJ Miles, Matthew Dellavedova, Carrick Felix and Dion Waiters are all on the injury report in some form or fashion []

Video: Cavaliers’ incredible 3D pre-game projection

From the night the Cleveland Cavaliers retired the jersey of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the company which projected the 3D  imagery seen during the halftime celebration—Quince Imaging—released footage of their incredible pre-game display. This projection system cost an exorbitant amount of money, so it’s easy to understand the lack of cost-effectiveness, but the fact that this technology even exists provides some insight into what the future holds for the ever-evolving arena of in-game experiences.

Kyrie Irving may be done for season with biceps injury

DSC_0477

When Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving left Sunday night’s game with an apparent biceps injury, hopes were that he could rest and make it back for Tuesday night’s contest against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Updated reports, however, have a bit of a different story: Irving may be lucky to make it back for any of the team’s remaining games as an MRI may prove to end his season.

From Mary Schmitt Boyer of the Northeast Ohio Media Group:

Irving, the Cavs All-Star point guard, left the game with a left biceps injury late in the first quarter, and he left the arena with his left arm in a sling. He is scheduled to have an MRI on Monday in Cleveland, but two NBA sources indicated the injury could be severe enough to end his season in the worst case scenario.

“That‟s the nature of the business, to go out there and try to contribute,” said Irving’s teammate Jarrett Jack following the game. “[Kyrie Irving] is our key guy. Leading the team, fueling the break, so a number of us have to step up in his absence.”

The Cavs sit at 26-41 with playoff hopes faint enough to merely tease us at this point (4.5 games back with 15 to play), losing Irving for an extended amount of time—or the season—would be enough to pull the plug.

Setting a goal to play in all 82 games this season, Irving, prior to this injury, missed just three games to this point due to a left knee contusion. He suited up several times after succumbing to a form of a stomach flu and even played through a broken nose suffered in a contest with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Results of Irving’s MRI should be known by late Monday.

(Image: Scott Sargent/WFNY) 

Forever His, Forever Ours

photo1

One man, one letter, one hell of a human being

Everyone has a story. If you are a fan of Cleveland Sports, be it in passion or in passing, odds are that you have a story with Zydrunas Ilgauskas serving as the central character. If you frequented Cleveland’s warehouse district during the early aughts, chances are you saw a late-20s Ilgauskas alone at a nightclub, leaning against a varnished wooden bar that barely hit him at the waste. More often than not, he would be wearing a cap of some sort; Kangols were huge back in the day. On the rare occasion, he would be puffing on a cigar the size of a human arm, losing himself in the fog. Many have had the fortune of crossing paths with Zydrunas or his family over the last several years as they lived out the second phase of the big man’s career. There are some individuals who shared the same day care or schooling system with the Ilgauskas family. There are others who have shared a flight with Big Z as he and his never-ending legs were crammed in a standard seat on a Southwest Airlines-branded Boeing 737.

[Read more...]