Former Cavaliers center Timofey Mozgov was honored with his championship ring on Saturday night as his Los Angeles Lakers were welcomed into the Q to take on the Cavs. It was an unfamiliar place for Mozgov, who had to walk into the visitors’ locker room before tipoff, but he was greeted with some familiar faces when he was mobbed at half-court upon receiving his championship ring.
Mozgov was an integral part of the Cavs during the 2014-15 season, when injuries plagued their NBA Finals run. He had an excellent series offensively and flourished in his role as the Cavs’ main rim-protector. As Tristan Thompson continued to improve and eventually took the starting role away from the Russian big-man, Mozgov found himself on the bench finding it difficult to see court action.
Despite this, Mozgov was a steady player for the Cavs, and proved he is a productive starting center in the NBA during his time with the wine and gold. His excellent play alongside talented superstars earned him a nice payday when he signed with the re-building Lakers this past off season. Mozgov experienced both the trials and tribulations for the Cavs, and he formed a lifelong special bond with his teammates when he won the world championship last June.
His ex-teammates haven’t forgotten him, and the embrace before the game was heart-warming and fitting, as they clearly miss Mozgov. After a video presentation, Ty Lue handed the 7-footer his new piece of jewelry.
Before the contest, Mozgov opened up about how he was feeling coming back to Cleveland, via Cleveland.com.
“It’s a lot,” Mozgov said pregame when asked to describe his emotions. “I keep telling (people) I’m really grateful. I think I was part of one of the best teams in the world and it means a lot to me. A lot of emotions and a lot of thoughts. Just excited. Can’t really tell how (excited).”
Mozgov left his emotions on the court every night, and the love he received back was something he’ll never forget.
“Feels like I miss this place. I’m not going to lie,” Mozgov said. “It was a lot of emotions right here. I receive it and I give it back and I really miss it.”
Despite his strong emotional connections with his ex teammates, the fans and the entire Cavaliers organization, he is still happy and excited about the next chapter of his career.
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“I miss you guys but I’m happy where I’m at right now,” he said. “We have a young, good team and we play hard. We’re growing up together and I like it.”
When you play with the likes of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, you often fade into the background when it comes to media attention, but Mozgov was at the heart of it on Saturday, and it’s something he enjoyed.
“I got a lot of attention today from media and fans,” Mozgov said. “I kind of like it. More support. I see people smile and it makes me smile.
“I just am who I am. I don’t try to be good or bad person, I just do the things I do and (for) people to say things like that, of course it makes me feel good. Makes me feel like I left something behind.”
Mozgov was a great accusation for the Cavaliers, and was a brilliant servant throughout his tenure in Northeast Ohio. He may have left downtown Cleveland, but he will always be a part of the first team to win a championship in franchise history.