Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Brown: Ilgauskas will play vs. Suns
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Zydrunas Ilgauskas never got off the bench during his first attempt at history. Given another chance, Cleveland Cavaliers coach Mike Brown assured it will happen.
Ilgauskas will become Cleveland's all-time leader in games played when he enters Wednesday's game at home against Phoenix. He currently shares the record of 723 games with Cleveland general manager Danny Ferry.
Ilgauskas was expected to break the record at home last Saturday, but Brown didn't play him during a 111-95 win against Dallas.
The perceived snub upset both Ilgauskas and LeBron James -- Ilgauskas hasn't spoke to reporters since the game and James criticized Brown for it on Monday.
"I definitely thought he should've played," James said. "As a friend of his, I was very upset and I know he was, also."
Brown explained on Monday that he liked the smaller, quicker lineup that was playing well against the Mavericks. But he said on Tuesday if he had it to do again, he would have played Ilgauskas against Dallas. He won't start Ilgauskas against the Suns -- an idea first floated by James -- but said he will play.
"I'll be just as happy as anybody when the record is accomplished," Brown said.
Ilgauskas declined interview requests for the second straight day Tuesday, while Brown stopped short of apologizing for keeping Ilgauskas from the record. He said he hadn't spoken to Ilgauskas yet about the incident, but that he would. He wasn't sure what he would say.
"I don't know. I haven't wrote anything out," Brown said. "We'll talk. I don't know when."
Ilgauskas has spent his entire 14-year career in Cleveland. He battled foot problems early on that forced him to miss essentially three full seasons. He is one of James' favorite players on the Cavaliers roster and the only holdover from when James was drafted. James was a big proponent in Ilgauskas receiving a five-year contract extension during the summer of 2005. Ilgauskas, now in the final year of that deal, has hinted at retiring after the season.
"I'm not trying to stir up anything with coach or whatever is going on with the organization, but sometimes one game is the smaller things," James said Monday. "What was on the line was something way bigger than us playing the Mavericks. That was 'Z' breaking the record."
Brown was not upset with James for speaking out.
"LeBron is a loyal person," Brown said. "That's big on his agenda. That's what has made him the type of person he is today. You respect and understand that he was being loyal to Z. I have no problem with that at all."