The Cleveland Cavaliers won’t let Zydrunas Ilgauskas play for Lithuania in the Olympics this summer, despite the fact that he wants to. Very badly. From the Cleveland Plain-Dealer:
Zydrunas Ilgauskas will not be permitted to play for Lithuania in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, the Cavaliers announced Thursday.
Although the veteran center had made it clear he wanted to compete in the Olympics for the first — and likely only — time in his career, the Cavs think it is just too much of a risk.
“Zydrunas is an important member of our team and has generally been a higher-risk player due to his injury history,” Cavs general manager Danny Ferry said Thursday night.
“We declined consent for Zydrunas to play in the Olympics when he approached us several weeks ago, and in light of the inability to insure Zydrunas adequately, we continue to deny consent and will not permit Zydrunas to play in the 2008 Olympics as a member of the Lithuanian National Team.”
While I understand where the Cavs are coming from, when it comes to representing your country, it changes the game a bit. I’m sure the Cavs point to the Jorge Garbajosa situation from last summer as a reason why they don’t want Ilgauskas to play, but it makes it tougher to justify to Z when LeBron will basically be the face of Team USA. Obviously it’s a different situation but we understand Ilgauskas’ frustration.
Is it right for NBA teams to keep their players out of the Olympics?