Cleveland Cavs NBA Basketball Team
The Cleveland Cavaliers are an American professional basketball team that plays in the National Basketball Association. The Cavaliers currently play their home games in Cleveland, Ohio at the Quicken Loans Arena or “The Q” as locals have come accustomed to calling it.
Cleveland began to play in the NBA as one of three expansions teams prior to the 1970 season.
Cleveland, along with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Buffalo Braves, who now play as the Los Angeles Clippers, was introduced.
From 1970 to 1974 the Cavaliers played their games at the Cleveland Arena and then from 1974 to 1994, home games resided at the Richfield Coliseum.
The Richfield Coliseum saw a lot of firsts for the Cavaliers organization. In 1976 Cleveland saw its first winning season, going 49-33, as well as its first Central Division title and a playoff appearance.
Richfield Coliseum is famous among the basketball world as it held court to the “Miracle at Richfield” where the Cavaliers defeated the Washington Bullets in that same 1976 playoffs, this time in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Washington Bullets. The nickname spawned from the miracle circumstances that saw the Cavs win three of their four games on last-second game-winning shots.
They would be eliminated from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Finals four games to 2 by the Boston Celtics.
In 1980 the organization was purchased by Ted Stepien. His run as owner was short and miserable. In the three years he owned the team he also acted as the General Manager and went through six head coaches in three years. In that time as acting owner the team lost 15 million dollars as well as posting a terrible record of 66-180.
Due to Stepien’s disregard draft pick value, he traded away the first pick in the draft in back-to-back seasons. Because of this the NBA stepped in, introducing the “Stepien Rule” which would not allow any NBA franchise to trade away the number one pick in the draft in back-to-back seasons.
Ted Stepien would sell the team to brothers George and Gordon Gund. The Gunds’ ownership went a lot more smoothly, posting 10 playoff appearances from the 1984-’85 season through the 1997-’98 season.
However, despite making the playoffs in 10 of the 13 seasons, the Cavaliers advanced past the first round only once while only making the Eastern Conference Finals for the single time in the 1991-’92 season.
Following that span, from 1998-’99 to 2004-05 the Cavaliers failed to make a single playoff appearance. Their 2002-’03 season was the worst of them all, going 17-65, finishing tied for the worst record in the NBA.
In 2003 though, their fortunes would change completely as they acquired, through the NBA Draft Lottery, the number one pick in the draft which would lead to picking Akron, Ohio native and future NBA MVP LeBron James.
In 2005 the Gunds would sell the team to Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert who would revamp the coaching staff and front-office by hiring Head Coach Mike Brown and General Manager Danny Ferry.
With James joining a Cleveland team that already included center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavs had players to finally build around once more.
James would go on to win NBA Rookie of the Year in 2003 and throughout the next few years would develop into a perennial All-Star, allowing the team to bring in young, play-makers such as forward Drew Gooden, guard Larry Hughes and forward Anderson Varajao.
The Cavaliers would go on to make five straight playoff appearances from 2005-’06 to 2009-’10.
In that span, Cleveland would reach its first NBA Finals appearance since their expansion in 1970 but would be swept by a San Antonio Spurs team led by future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.
Cleveland Head Coach Mike Brown, who came to the Cavs after spending three years as an assistant under Spurs Head Coach Greg Popovich from 2000-2003 would come to learn, he had a lot of work left to do.
Brown’s Cavaliers would head into each of the next three seasons as Eastern Conference favorites but failed to reach the Finals in each of those three years.
The 2010 season left more to be desired after losing to the Boston Celtics in the second round of the playoffs and more importantly, led to the departure of star player LeBron James.
On July 8, 2010, James announced on his nationally televised ESPN special “The Decision” that he would leave Cleveland and “take his talents to South Beach” to play with guard Dwyane Wade and forward Chris Bosh, forming the new “Big 3.”
This left the franchise in disarray as they would post a 19-63 record, a 42-win drop from the season before. It is currently the largest one year drop in wins in NBA history.
Cleveland would once again find luck in owning the first pick, this time in 2011 where they chose a young guard from Duke in the form of Kyrie Irving.
The post-LeBron years would not treat the Cavaliers well as they would, just like the early ‘80s, finish close to last in the conference for all four years putting together a record of 97-215 from 2010-’11 to 2014-’15.
The Cavaliers fortunes would change once more in 2014 when LeBron James would announce that he was “Coming Home” after spending four seasons in Miami, winning two NBA titles in the process.
Almost immediately, Cleveland traded away number one pick Andrew Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves for perennial all-star forward Kevin Love who would come to the Cavaliers and pair up with James and Irving to form their own “Big 3.”
The trio would go on to make three straight NBA Finals in 2015, 2016 and 2017, all matchups coming against the young, three-point savvy Golden State Warriors.
The Cleveland Cavaliers would go on to win the championship in the 2016 season breaking the “Cleveland Curse” of 52 years without a major sports championship.
The Championship parade that followed the ’16 championship would go on to be one of the biggest sports parades in major sports history as 1.3 million Clevelanders packed the streets of Cleveland, Ohio securing their spot to witness history once more.
After the 2016-’17 season Kyrie Irving went on to leave the Cavaliers after requesting a trade and eventually ended up on the Boston Celtics, one of Cleveland’s newfound rivals, in exchange for an expected high pick from the Brooklyn Nets, forward Jae Crowder and guard Isaiah Thomas.