In a move that very few people found surprising, Zydrunas Ilgauskas officially signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers this week and played for them against the New Orleans Hornets on Wednesday night. Ilgauskas has never played an NBA game for a team other than the Cavaliers. He was traded at the deadline for forward Antawn Jamison, but was promptly bought out by the Wizards and re-signed with the Cavaliers as soon as he was eligible. Ilgauskas did have other teams that were interested in signing him, but he ultimately chose to return to the team that originally drafted him out of Lithuania.
In an interview with ESPN 850 WKNR’s Michael Reghi, Ilgauskas explained why he returned to Cleveland:
“I just felt like I had unfinished business here in Cleveland. I felt like I was leaving, not only a lot friends, but a lot of guys that I consider like a family to me. Everything happened so sudden and when everything settled down, I had a chance to look at my options and think about it and I really couldn’t pull myself away. If I wasn’t going to come back and this team would win a championship, I don’t think I would forgive myself for not being there. That was the biggest thing. I just wanted to be a part of it.”
Although he’s never been a superstar in the NBA, Ilgauskas is a beloved figure in Cleveland who will likely have his number retired after he retires. He owns several important Cavalier records, has spent as much time with one team as almost any player in a major sport, and has strong ties to the Cleveland community. About all that Ilgauskas has left to accomplish in Cleveland is win a championship, and he knows it. Now he just has to do what he can to help his team try to actually win it.
With so much focus in recent weeks being on NBA players speaking out on social issues, it’s worth remembering that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar has been one of the most vocal athletes in America on these things for decades. The Hall of Fame and all-time leading scorer in NBA history addressed the Democratic National Convention on Thursday evening, urging voters to vote for Hillary Clinton in November, and opened his remarks by introducing himself as Michael Jordan, because “Donald Trump couldn’t tell the difference.”
You can watch the video of his speech below:
In the weeks since Kevin Durant announced he was signing with the Golden State Warriors, we have yet to hear Russell Westbrook speak on his former teammate’s decision. This week, ESPN.com’s Royce Young indicated in a podcast interview that Durant was telling Westbrook and others in the days leading up to his decision that he was coming back to Oklahoma City. He later walked back his report, saying he misspoke. On Thursday, Durant himself told The Vertical‘s Shams Charania that he never said any such thing, or misled Westbrook or anyone else about his intentions.
“It’s false,” Durant told The Vertical on Thursday. “I didn’t say that – words about me telling Russell or Nick that I would stay or leave never came out of my mouth. We met as teammates, but no promises came out of it. In this day and age, I can’t control anything people claim out there. Someone can go out and say something random right now, and people will believe it.
“I never told Russell or Nick [Collison], ‘All right, guys, I’m coming back to the Thunder’ – and then a week later, I decide not to. Never happened. I don’t operate like that. I heard people say that story, but it’s not the truth.”
So that settles that.
CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bulls have signed guard Spencer Dinwiddie.
The Bulls acquired Dinwiddie in a trade with Detroit last month and waived him three weeks ago. He spent two years with the Pistons and appeared in 12 games last season, averaging 4.8 points and 13.3 minutes.
The Bulls announced the move Thursday.