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Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers
33px2014–15 Cleveland Cavaliers season
Cleveland Cavaliers logo
Conference Eastern
Division Central
Founded 1970
History Cleveland Cavaliers
Arena Quicken Loans Arena
City Cleveland, Ohio
Team colors Wine, Gold, Navy, White[1]
Owner(s) Dan Gilbert
General manager David Griffin
Head coach David Blatt
D-League affiliate Canton Charge
Championships 0
Conference titles 2 (2007, 2015)
Division titles 4 (1976, 2009, 2010, 2015)
Retired numbers 7 (7, 11, 22, 25, 34, 42, 43)
Official website

The Cleveland Cavaliers, also known as the Cavs, are an American professional basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio, that competes in the National Basketball Association (NBA). The team began play in the league in 1970 as an expansion team. Home games are held at Quicken Loans Arena, which the team shares with the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League and the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League. The Cavaliers play in the Central Division of the Eastern Conference, the only remaining charter member of the division (all the other Central Division teams joined later from the now-defunct Midwest Division).

The Cavaliers have featured many NBA stars during their history, including draft picks turned All-Stars Austin Carr, Brad Daugherty, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mark Price, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Past NBA greats such as Nate Thurmond, Lenny Wilkens, Walt "Clyde" Frazier, and Shaquille O'Neal have also played in Cleveland (albeit near the end of their careers).

The team has won four Central Division championships (1976, 2009, 2010 and 2015) and two Eastern Conference championships (2007 and 2015), and has had 19 total playoff seasons. However, the team has also had a number of dubious distinctions, such as former owner Ted Stepien's tenure, which led the NBA to create a rule regulating the trading of draft picks ("The Stepien Rule"), and a 26-game losing streak in 2010–11, which tied the record for the longest losing streak in major American professional sports.


The original logo of the Cavaliers, used 1970-1983.

The Cavaliers first began play in the NBA in 1970 as an expansion team under the ownership of Nick Mileti. Jerry Tomko, the father of future Major League Baseball pitcher Brett Tomko, submitted the winning entry to name the team the "Cavaliers" through a competition sponsored by The Plain Dealer, supporters preferred it to "Jays", "Foresters" and "Presidents".[2][3] Playing their home games at Cleveland Arena under the direction of head coach Bill Fitch, they compiled a league-worst 15–67 record in their inaugural season. The team hoped to build around the number one 1971 draft pick Austin Carr who had set numerous scoring records at Notre Dame, but Carr severely injured his leg shortly into his pro career and never was able to realize his potential.

1970–80: The Austin Carr era

File:Austin Carr.jpg
Austin Carr - the first overall pick in the 1971 NBA Draft, a 1974 NBA All-Star, and longtime TV color analyst for the Cavs

The following seasons saw the Cavaliers gradually improve their on-court performance, thanks to season-by-season additions of talented players such as Bobby "Bingo" Smith, Jim Chones, Jim Cleamons and Dick Snyder. The Cavaliers improved to 23–59 in their sophomore season, followed by a 32–50 record in 1972–73, and 29–53 in 1973–74.

In 1974, the Cavaliers moved into the brand-new Richfield Coliseum, located in rural Richfield, Ohio - Script error: No such module "convert". south of downtown Cleveland in Summit County (now part of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park). The move was done as the Cleveland Arena had fallen into disrepair, and the location was chosen in an effort to draw fans in from nearby Akron and other areas of Northeast Ohio.[4] That season, the Cavaliers finished with a 40–42 record, falling just short of a playoff berth.

In the 1975–76 season with Carr, Smith, Chones, Snyder, and newly acquired Nate Thurmond; Fitch led the Cavaliers to a 49–33 record and a division title. Fitch received the league's Coach of the Year award as the Cavs made their first-ever playoff appearance, and clinched their first Central Division Title. In the playoffs, the Cavs won the series against the Washington Bullets, 4–3. Because of the many heroics and last-second shots, the series became known locally as the "Miracle of Richfield." They won Game 7, 87–85 on a shot by Snyder with four seconds to go. But the team became hampered by injuries - particularly to Jim Chones, who suffered a broken ankle. The Cavs proceeded to lose to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. It is widely believed among both Cavs fans and players that the "Miracle" team would have won the 1976 NBA Championship had Chones stayed healthy.[5]

Cleveland won 43 games in both of the 1976–77 and 1977–78 seasons, but both seasons resulted in early playoff exits. After a 30–52 season in 1978–79, Fitch resigned as head coach.

1980–83: Ownership under Ted Stepien

The following season, after going 37–45 under Fitch's successor Stan Albeck, original owner Mileti sold his shares to minority owner Joe Zingale. In 1980, after just a few months, Zingale sold the team to Nationwide Advertising magnate Ted Stepien on April 12, 1980.[6] Early on in his tenure, Stepien proposed to rename the team the "Ohio Cavaliers", part of a plan that included playing their home games not just in the Cleveland area but in Cincinnati and in non-Ohio markets such as Buffalo and Pittsburgh. He also made changes to the game day entertainment, such as introducing a polka-flavored fight song and a dance team known as "The Teddy Bears". Stepien also oversaw the hiring and firing of a succession of coaches and was involved in making a number of poor trade and free agent signing decisions. The result of his questionable trading acumen was the loss of several of the team's first-round draft picks, which led to a rule change in the NBA prohibiting teams from trading away first-round draft picks in consecutive years. This rule is known as the "Ted Stepien Rule".

The ensuing chaos had a major effect on both the Cavaliers' on-court performance and lack of local support, going 28–54 in 1980–81 (Stepien's first year as owner), followed by an abysmal 15–67 mark in 1981–82. The 1981–82 team lost its last 19 games of the season which, when coupled with the five losses at the start of the 1982–83 season, constitute the NBA's second all-time longest losing streak at 24 games. Although the team improved its record to 23–59 the following year, local support for the Cavs eroded which eventually bottomed out that year by averaging only 3,900 fans a game at the cavernous Coliseum which seated more than 20,000.

Though Stepien eventually threatened to move the franchise to Toronto and rename it the Toronto Towers, brothers George and Gordon Gund purchased the Cavaliers in the mid-1980s and decided to keep the team in Cleveland. As an incentive to the Gunds, NBA owners awarded the team bonus first-round picks for each year from 1983 to 1986 to help compensate for the ones Stepien traded away.[7]

1983–86: The Gunds take over

Shortly after purchasing the Cavaliers in 1983, the Gunds changed the team colors from wine and gold to burnt orange and navy blue. Furthermore, they officially adopted "Cavs" as a shorter nickname for marketing purposes, as it had been used unofficially by fans and headline writers since the team's inception.

Under the coaching of George Karl, the Cavaliers failed again, and missed the playoffs, with a 28–54 record, in the 1983–84. The Cavs finally returned to the playoffs in 1985, only to lose to the eventual Eastern Conference Champions Boston Celtics in the first round. At that point, the team was in transition, led by dynamic players such as World B. Free, Roy Hinson and John Bagley. But in 1986, Karl was fired after 66 games. Interim head coach Gene Littles guided the team the rest of the way, which saw the Cavs finish one game short of the playoffs. During the seven-season period, the Cavaliers had nine head coaches: Stan Albeck, Bill Musselman, Don Delaney, Bob Kloppenburg, Chuck Daly, Bill Musselman (again), Tom Nissalke, George Karl, and Gene Littles. The only playoff appearance earned during this stretch was during the 1984–85 season under Karl, losing to the Boston Celtics in the first round in four games (1–3).

1986–92: One of the NBA's best teams

File:Brad Daugherty basketball 270.jpg
Brad Daugherty, the first overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft and a 5-time NBA All-Star for the Cavs

In 1986, the Cavaliers acquired, either through trades or the draft, Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Ron Harper and Larry Nance. Those four players (until Harper was later traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in 1989 for the rights to Danny Ferry) formed the core of the team, under the direction of head coach Lenny Wilkens, that led the Cavs to eight playoff seasons in the next nine years, including three seasons of 50 or more wins.

In 1989, the Cavs were paired against the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs. In the fourth game of the best-of-five-series, Cleveland managed to beat the Bulls in overtime 108–105 to level the series at 2–2. Home court advantage went to Cleveland. The game was evenly matched, until Cleveland managed to score on a drive and raise the lead by one, with three seconds left. Chicago called for a time-out. The ball was inbounded to Michael Jordan, who went for a jump shot. Cleveland's Craig Ehlo jumped in front to block it, but Jordan seemed to stay in the air until Ehlo landed. "The Shot" went in as time ran out, with Chicago winning the series 3–2. The buzzer-beater is considered one of Jordan's greatest clutch moments, the game itself one of the greatest in NBA history, and the series a classic. But the pinnacle of the Cavs' success came in the 1991–92 season, when they compiled a 57–25 record and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals, losing again to the Chicago Bulls 4–2.

1993–2003: A decade of struggle

File:Zydrunas Cavs.jpg
Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, a Cavs 1996 first-round draft pick, a two-time NBA All Star for the Cavs, and the team's all-time leader in games played, rebounds, and blocked shots. He is currently a Special Advisor for the Cavaliers.

Soon after, the Cavaliers entered into a period of decline. With the retirements and departures of Nance, Daugherty, and Price, the team lost much of its dominance and were no longer able to contest strongly during the playoffs. After the 1992–93 season, in which the Cavs had a 54–28 regular-season record but suffered an early exit from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals to the Chicago Bulls, Wilkens left to coach the Atlanta Hawks.

Following the hiring of Mike Fratello as head coach starting with the 1993–94 season, the Cavs became one of the NBA's best defensive teams under the leadership of point guard Terrell Brandon. But the offense, which was a half-court, "slow-down" tempo installed by Fratello, met with mixed success. Although the Cavaliers made regular playoff appearances, they were unable to advance beyond the first round. In the 1994 NBA Playoffs, the last which Daugherty and Nance played in, the Cavaliers yet again met the Chicago Bulls in the first round, led by Scottie Pippen in the wake of Jordan's first retirement. The Bulls proved that it was not just the "Jordan Curse", and would prevail yet again sweeping the Cavs 3–0 in the first round encounter.

In 1994, the Cavs moved back to downtown Cleveland with the opening of the 20,562-seat, state-of-the-art Gund Arena. Known by locals as "the Gund", the venue served as the site of the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. The arena and the Cleveland Indians' Jacobs Field were built together as part of the city's Gateway project.

The Cavs revamped their starting lineup during the 1997 off-season, sending guard Bobby Phills, and forward Chris Mills to free agency, and trading Terrell Brandon and Tyrone Hill to the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a three-team trade. They acquired All-Star forward Shawn Kemp from the Seattle SuperSonics (from the three-team trade involving Cleveland, Seattle and Milwaukee) and guard Wesley Person from the Phoenix Suns. Later on, players like Kemp and Žydrūnas Ilgauskas added quality to the team, but without further post-season success. The Cavs did have five All-Stars/All-Rookies in 1998 with Kemp a starting All-Star for the East, Brevin Knight and Ilgauskas on the All-Rookie First Team, and Cedric Henderson and Derek Anderson on the All-Rookie Second Team. No other NBA team has ever been represented by five players at the All-Star celebration or four players as All-Rookies in the same year. Still, in the three seasons that Kemp played for the Cavs, they managed only one playoff appearance and one playoff win. Fratello was fired following the shortened 1998–99 season.

Despite the arrivals of Andre Miller, Brevin Knight, Lamond Murray, Chris Mihm and Carlos Boozer, the Cavs were a perennial lottery team for the early part of the 2000s. The 2002–03 team finished with the third-worst record in franchise history (17–65), which earned them a tie for last place in the league and a 22.5 percent chance at winning the NBA Draft Lottery and the first overall selection.

Ricky Davis received national attention on March 16, 2003, in game against the Utah Jazz. With Cleveland ahead in the game 120–95, Davis was one rebound short of a triple-double with only a few seconds left on the clock. After receiving an inbound pass at the Cavs' end of the floor, Davis banged the ball off the rim and caught it in attempt to receive credit for a rebound. Utah's DeShawn Stevenson took offense to this breach of sportsman's etiquette and immediately fouled Davis hard.[8] The play did not count as a rebound since firing at your own team's basket does not count as a shot attempt, and in fact is a technical foul under NBA rules. Since the referees had never seen anyone shoot at his own basket before, they were unfamiliar with the rule and play was allowed to continue. This (which led to Davis being nicknamed in Cleveland as "Wrong Rim Ricky") and countless other selfish acts contributed to the Cavs trading of Davis later that year and ushering in a new type of team.[9]

2003–10: The first LeBron James era

File:LeBron James (15662939969).jpg
Cavaliers forward LeBron James, who was the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft. In his first stint with the Cavs, he was the 2004 Rookie of the Year, a two-time NBA MVP (2009, 2010), a six-time NBA All Star, led the team to its first NBA Finals in 2007, and became the team's all-time leading scorer. James returned to the team in 2014 after controversially leaving to join the Miami Heat in 2010.

Several losing seasons followed which saw the Cavaliers drop to the bottom of the league and become a perennial lottery draft team. After another disappointing season in 2002–03, the Cavaliers landed the number one draft pick in the NBA Lottery. With it, the team selected local high school phenomenon and future NBA MVP LeBron James. As if celebrating a new era in Cleveland Cavaliers basketball, the team's colors were changed from orange, black and blue back to wine and gold, with the addition of navy blue and a new primary logo.

James' status as both an area star (having played his high school basketball at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in nearby Akron) and as one of the most highly touted prospects in NBA history has led many to view his selection as a turning point in the franchise's history. Embraced by Cleveland as "King James," the 2003–04 season offered great hope for the future, as James rose to become a dominating player, winning the NBA Rookie of the Year Award. Hope was even greater for the 2004–05 season. James increased his production in terms of points, rebounds, and assists per game. Despite the loss of Carlos Boozer in the offseason, James teamed with Žydrūnas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden to form the core of the team. After a promising start, the Cavs began a downward spiral that eventually led to the firing of coach Paul Silas and general manager Jim Paxson. The team failed to make the playoffs that year, tied with New Jersey Nets for the final playoff spot with identical 42–40 records; however, the Nets owned the tiebreaker due to having the better head to head record.

The Cavaliers made many changes in the 2005 offseason. Under new owner Dan Gilbert, the team hired a new head coach, Mike Brown, and a new general manager, former Cavaliers forward Danny Ferry. The team experienced success on the court in the following season, clinching their first playoff appearance since 1998. After a first round win over the Washington Wizards, the Cavaliers rebounded from a 0–2 deficit in the second round against the #1 seeded Detroit Pistons, winning three consecutive games to come one game away from the conference finals. They lost a close Game 6 at home, and followed it with a 79–61 loss in Game 7. The playoff rounds were a showcase for the emergence of LeBron James, who achieved many "youngest ever to..." records during the run.

The Cavs continued their success in the 2006–07 season. The team earned the second seed in the East with a 50–32 record, generating a series of favorable matchups in the playoffs. They battled 7th-seeded Wizards, who struggled with injuries near the end of the season. The Cavaliers swept this series 4–0, and defeated the New Jersey Nets, 4–2, in the second round. The Cavaliers faced the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals. After again losing the first two games at Detroit, the Cavaliers won the next three to take a 3–2 series lead. This time, the Cavaliers eliminated Detroit in Game 6. The wins included a 109–107 double-overtime game at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Game 5, in which LeBron James scored the last 25 points for the Cavs, and his performance in this game is recognized as one of the best in NBA history. They continued to a dominant 98–82 win at home in Game 6. Rookie Daniel "Boobie" Gibson scored a career-high 31 points in the series clincher, and the franchise won its first ever Eastern Conference Championship. The team's first trip to the NBA Finals was a short one, as they were outmatched and outplayed by the very strong San Antonio Spurs, who swept the Cavs 4–0.

The Cavs took a step back in the 2007–08 season. They battled injuries and had many roster changes, including a three team trade at the trade deadline in which the team acquired F Joe Smith, G-F Wally Szczerbiak, F-C Ben Wallace, and G Delonte West. The Cavs finished 45–37 and lost in the second round against eventual champion Boston. The next off-season, the team made a major change to its lineup, trading G Damon Jones and Smith (who later in the season rejoined the Cavs after being released by Oklahoma City) for point guard Mo Williams. This trade was made in hopes of bringing another scorer to aid James.

File:Mike Brown NBA cropped.jpg
Two-time head coach Mike Brown, who in his first stint with the Cavs was NBA Coach of the Year for 2008–09, led the team to the 2007 NBA Finals, and was the head coach of the Eastern Conference for the 2009 All Star Game.

In the next season, the Cavs made astounding progress. They finished with a record of 66–16, the best record and regular season in franchise history. The year marked other notable franchise records, including a 13-game winning streak, and road and home winning records. The Cavs entered the playoffs as the #1 seed in the NBA with home court advantage throughout the playoffs. They finished the season 39–2 at home, one win short of the best all-time home record. Head Coach Mike Brown won NBA Coach of the Year honors and LeBron James finished second in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award and won the NBA MVP. The Cavs began the 2009 postseason by sweeping the 8th-seeded Detroit Pistons, winning every game by 10 or more points. In the conference semifinals, the Cavaliers swept the 4th-seeded Atlanta Hawks, again winning each game by at least ten points, becoming the first team in NBA history to win eight straight playoff games by a double-digit margin. The Cavs then met the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Cavs lost Game 1 of the series 107–106 at home despite James' 49-point effort. Despite winning Game 2 by a score of 96–95, with the help of a James buzzer-beating three-pointer, it was not enough as Orlando won the series in six games.

During the 2009 off-season, the Cavs acquired four-time NBA Champion and 15-time All Star center Shaquille O'Neal from the Phoenix Suns.[10] The Cavs also signed wingman Anthony Parker, and forwards Leon Powe and Jamario Moon for the following season. On February 17, 2010, the Cavaliers acquired All-Star forward Antawn Jamison from the Washington Wizards and Sebastian Telfair from the Los Angeles Clippers in a three team trade. The Cavaliers originally lost Žydrūnas Ilgauskas in this trade, but after being waived by Washington, he signed back with the Cavaliers on March 23 for the rest of the season. The Cavaliers managed to finish with the NBA's best record for the second straight season, with a 61–21 record. James was named the NBA MVP, for the second consecutive year. The Cavaliers defeated the Chicago Bulls 4–1 in the first round of the 2010 NBA Playoffs but, in a huge upset, lost to the Boston Celtics after leading the series 2–1, with the Celtics proceeding to win 3 consecutive games (afterwards, the Celtics went to the 2010 NBA Finals and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 4–3.) Each team would suffer record-setting playoff defeats on home soil; the Celtics lost by 29, 124–95, in Game 3, the greatest defeat in the history of the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, while the Cavaliers lost by 32, 120–88, in Game 5.

The Decision

With the Cavaliers out of the playoffs, the focus then turned to James' impending free agency. On July 8, 2010, James announced in a nationally televised one hour special titled The Decision on ESPN that he would be signing with the Miami Heat.[11] The repercussions of this announcement left many in the city of Cleveland infuriated and feeling betrayed. A number of LeBron James jerseys were burned, and the famous Nike "Witness" mural of James in downtown Cleveland was immediately taken down.

Shortly after James made his announcement, Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cavaliers, announced in an open letter on the Cavaliers website (since dubbed as "The Letter" by some) that James' decision was a "cowardly betrayal" and promised a NBA championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers before LeBron James wins one,[12] although James would win a championship before the Cavs with the Heat's championship in 2012. Despite being ridiculed for the letter by the media, Cleveland fans embraced the owner, even offering to pay the $100,000 fine given by the NBA.

2010–11: Post–Decision struggles

File:Byron Scott.jpg
Former Cavs head coach Byron Scott, under whose watch the Cavs went 64-166 and went through the longest losing streak in major professional sports history at 26.

During the 2010 offseason, before LeBron James left the team, the Cavaliers fired head coach Mike Brown, along with most of their coaching staff. General Manager Danny Ferry resigned on June 4, 2010 and Assistant General Manager Chris Grant was promoted to replace Ferry. On July 1, the Cavaliers hired former Los Angeles Lakers guard and former New Jersey Nets and New Orleans Hornets head coach Byron Scott as the 18th head coach in franchise history.

The Cavaliers spent the rest of the 2010 off-season rebuilding their team after James' departure. They signed 2009 first-round pick Christian Eyenga and acquired Ramon Sessions and Ryan Hollins from the Minnesota Timberwolves in a trade that saw the Cavs give away Delonte West and Sebastian Telfair. The Cavaliers also signed free agent Joey Graham and undrafted rookies Samardo Samuels and Manny Harris. The Cavs were also active at the trade deadline in February 2011. They acquired former All-Star Baron Davis and a 2011 first round draft pick from the L.A. Clippers in exchange for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon.[13]
File:Kyrie Irving cropped.jpg
Kyrie Irving - the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, the 2011-12 Rookie of the Year, a three-time NBA All Star, the 2014 All Star Game MVP, and was the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup MVP after helping lead Team USA to the Gold Medal.

On the court, the 2010–11 season was a stark contrast from the previous season. They went from a league-best 61 wins in 2009-10 to a conference-worst 19, the biggest single-season drop in NBA history. This season also saw the Cavs lose 63 games, including a 26-game losing streak, which set an NBA record and tied the 1976–77 Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the longest losing streak in any American professional team sport.

2011–14: Rebuilding with Kyrie Irving

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David Griffin - who became Cavs GM in February 2014.

Having the second-worst team record in the 2010–11 season as well as the Clippers' first round pick that they received in the Mo Williams/Baron Davis trade, the Cavaliers had high odds of winning an early draft pick in the NBA Draft Lottery, with a 22.7% chance of their pick becoming #1 overall.[14] The selection acquired from the Clippers became the first pick in the lottery, while the Cavaliers original selection ended up as the #4 selection in the draft. The Cavaliers took Duke Blue Devils guard Kyrie Irving with the first pick. With the 4th pick, the Cavaliers selected Texas Longhorns power forward Tristan Thompson. The Cavaliers used the next year to build around the two top-5 picks. They acquired small forward Omri Casspi and a lottery-protected first-round draft pick from the Sacramento Kings for forward J.J. Hickson. At the next year's trade deadline, the Cavaliers acquired forward Luke Walton and a first-round draft pick from the Los Angeles Lakers. The 2011–12 lockout shortened season was an improvement for the Cavs, as they finished 21–45. Irving was named NBA Rookie of the Year and was unanimously voted to the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Thompson was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

For the second straight year, the Cavaliers had two first-round picks in the NBA Draft.[15] With their own #4 pick, they chose guard Dion Waiters from Syracuse, and with pick #17 (which was acquired from Dallas on draft night), they chose center Tyler Zeller from North Carolina.[15] In August 2012, the Cavaliers signed veteran free agent swingman C.J. Miles.[16] The team struggled in 2012-13, which led to them sacking head coach Byron Scott after a 64–166 record in three seasons.[17] The following week, the Cavaliers rehired Mike Brown as head coach, making him the second two-time head coach in team history, after Bill Musselman in the early 1980s.[18][19]

The Cavaliers had several early picks in 2013. They won the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery to receive the first overall pick. They also had the 19th pick (acquired from the Los Angeles Lakers), as well as two out of the top three picks in the second round.[20][21] For the third straight year the Cavs had two picks in the first round of the NBA Draft. The Cavaliers made somewhat of a surprise pick when they drafted forward Anthony Bennett of UNLV. This made Bennett the first Canadian born player in history to be the number one pick. With the 19th pick, the Cavaliers took swingman Sergey Karasev out of Russia.[22] The Cavaliers signed free agent forward Earl Clark to a two-year contract and veteran guard Jarrett Jack to a four-year deal.[23][24] The Cavaliers also signed two-time NBA Champion and former All-Star center Andrew Bynum to a one-year contract.[25][26][27] Bynum would then be traded on January 7, 2014 to the Chicago Bulls (along with draft picks) for two-time All-Star forward Luol Deng.[28]

The Cavs struggled through the 2013–14 season as on February 6, they fired GM Chris Grant. The team then announced that VP of basketball operations David Griffin would serve as acting GM.[29] On May 12, 2014, the Cavs announced that Griffin had been named as the full-time GM, while also announcing that Mike Brown had been fired after only one season in his second stint with the team following going 33–49. The Cavs won the #1 draft pick in the 2014 Draft Lottery, making it the third time in four years they would win the lottery.[30]

2014–present: The return of LeBron James

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Current head coach David Blatt, who came to the Cavs in June 2014 after winning the 2014 Euroleague Championship with Maccabi Tel Aviv and being named 2014 Euroleague Coach of the Year
File:Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James 2014.jpg
Three-time NBA All-Star and 2012 Olympic Gold medal winner Kevin Love (left), whose trade to the Cavaliers has led national sports media personalities to dub him, Kyrie Irving (center) and LeBron James (right) as the Cavs' "Big Three"

On June 20, 2014, the Cavaliers signed longtime Euroleague coach David Blatt—who had just led Maccabi Tel Aviv to the 2014 Euroleague Championship, and named 2014 Euroleague Coach of the Year—to become head coach of the Cavs.[31] Three days later, the team hired former two-time NBA Championship-winning player and veteran assistant coach Tyronn Lue as their new associate head coach, making him the NBA's highest-paid assistant coach in the process.[32] On June 26, the Cavaliers selected swingman Andrew Wiggins from Kansas as the No. 1 pick of the 2014 NBA Draft.[33]

The Essay

On July 11, 2014, written in Sports Illustrated, free agent LeBron James announced his return to the Cavaliers after leaving the team in 2010 under controversial circumstances.[34][35] The content of the essay had been based on the city where he is from. On July 15, the Cavaliers signed James' former Miami Heat teammate, swingman Mike Miller (who was part of Miami's two NBA championship seasons), coming from the Memphis Grizzlies.[36] The next day, the Cavaliers signed another one of James' former two-time champion Heat teammates, swingman James Jones, to a one-year contract.[37]

On August 7, it was reported that the Minnesota Timberwolves had agreed to a three-team deal with Cleveland along with the Philadelphia 76ers to trade three-time All-Star forward Kevin Love to the Cavaliers in exchange for Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and a future first-round draft pick. Philadelphia was to send Thaddeus Young to Minnesota in exchange for the draft pick, and Luc Mbah a Moute went to Philadelphia. By NBA rules, the deal could not become official until August 23, upon which it was formally announced.[38] Because Wiggins had signed his rookie contract on July 24, league rules prohibited him from being traded until 30 days after his signing; the trade was finalized once the 30-day window expired on August 23.[39] On August 17, the Cavs signed four-time All Star and former NBA champion Shawn Marion to a one-year contract, as the veteran forward was a free agent after playing with the Dallas Mavericks the past five seasons.[40]

"Big Three" established

The 2014–15 season started 19–20 after 39 games. During the week of January 5, 2015, the Cavaliers traded Dion Waiters (along with various other players and draft picks) in a pair of deals and acquired swingman J. R. Smith and guard Iman Shumpert from the New York Knicks, along with center Timofey Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets.[41] Mozgov and Smith were inserted into the starting lineup, while Shumpert became a top reserve. Beginning on January 15, the team's fortunes changed, as the Cavs went 34–9 the rest of the regular season On January 28, Irving set a record for most points in Quicken Loans Arena history as he scored 55 points, leading the Cavs to a 99–94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers.[42] On March 12, he established a new team record for most points scored in a single game with 57 in a 128–125 overtime win against the San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio, surpassing James, who had held the record with 56. Irving did so while shooting a perfect 7-for-7 on three-point shot attempts and 10-for-10 on free throws. He also had several three-point plays in the game as well as two crucialthree-point shots in the closing seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime, including the final shot at the buzzer. He then went on to score 11 of the Cavs' 18 points in overtime. With these two games, Irving ended the season having the top two individual high scoring performances.[43] At the end of the season, the Cavs had a 53-29 regular-season record and clinched a playoff spot on March 20, marking a return to postseason play after a four-year absence. On April 8, with a 104–99 win against the Milwaukee Bucks, the Cavs clinched the second seed in the Eastern Conference and won the Central Division title.

In round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Cavs swept the Boston Celtics 4–0 to advance to the next round, but lost Kevin Love in the process after suffering a dislocated shoulder when Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk grabbed Love in what has been regarded by Love as a "dirty play" and a purposeful arm bar.[44] Despite that, the Cavs then beat the Chicago Bulls four games to two in the Eastern Conference semifinals to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks. The Cavs swept the Hawks, four games to none to win the team's second Eastern Conference title, and advance to the NBA Finals, where they will take on the Golden State Warriors.

Season-by-season records

Logos and uniforms

The "original" wine and gold

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Former Cavs center and Basketball Hall of Famer Nate Thurmond wearing the "Miracle of Richfield" era wine colored road uniform

When the Cleveland Cavaliers debuted in the NBA in 1970, the team's original jerseys were wine and gold. The first jerseys featured the feathered treatment of the letter C in Cavaliers. In 1974, they changed into the classic block lettering and checkerboard pattern that was synonymous to the 'Miracle of Richfield' teams of 1976. In 1980, the gold shade was changed from yellowish to metallic, and the uniforms removed the checkerboard pattern and placed the stripes above Cleveland and below the uniform number, the only time the city name was featured in both home and away jerseys.

The original logo was that of swashbuckling cavalier looking right with a sword pointing, surrounded by the team name and a basketball. A modernized swashbuckling cavalier logo was later used by the Cavaliers' NBA Development League affiliates, the Canton Charge.

The gold checkerboard uniforms were used as throwbacks in the 2004–05 season to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 'Miracle of Richfield' team, while the gold 'Feathered C' uniforms were used again in the 2008–09 season, as a buildup to the then-upcoming 40th season of the Cavaliers.

Blue and orange

In the 1983–84 season, the colors were changed to burnt orange, blue and white. The first Cavaliers uniform under the new scheme featured the Cavs logo (with a V in the shape of a hoop and circle above as basketball) in an arched pattern and the player name sewn onto the back shoulder as a patch, with orange being the primary color in both the away and home uniforms. However, in the 1987–88 season, orange was relegated as a secondary color, and blue was used instead as the primary for the away and home uniforms; minor changes in the 1989–90 season include the city name on the blue away uniforms. The drop shadows were also removed.

The orange version of the uniform was used again in the 2006–07 season, as part of the 20th anniversary of the 1986–87 team, while the blue versions were worn in the 2009–10 season as part of the franchise's 40th anniversary and as a tribute to the 1988–89 team.

Blue, black and orange

Coinciding with the move to Gund Arena in the 1994–95 season, the Cavs changed logos and uniforms, adding black in addition to the already existing blue, orange and white colors. The uniforms feature a blue splash in the abdomen area in front. From 1994 to 1997 the word 'CAVS' on the home uniforms were orange with black line, while the numbers are in black with white line, while 'CLEVELAND' on the road uniforms were also orange with black line, while the number are in white with a black line. From 1997 to 1999 the numbers and lettering were slightly tweaked. The word 'CAVS' and the numbers on the home uniforms are in black with orange line, while the word 'CLEVELAND' and the numbers on the road uniforms are in white with orange line. In the latter iteration, the blue splash was moved from the right leg to the left leg, surrounding 'CLEVELAND' on the home uniforms and 'CAVS' on the road uniforms, with a minor change in striping.

In the 1999–2000 season, the Cavaliers opted to go for a cleaner look, eliminating the splash and adding an orange and blue line that runs through the shorts. The home jerseys feature the team nickname and the uniform numbers are in blue with black line, while on the away jerseys, they feature the city name and the uniform numbers in white with blue line. They were used until the 2002–03 season.

The logo used in this period was of a basketball on its way down the net, surrounded by a black square and the word 'CAVS' in blue with black line below.

The "new" wine and gold

LeBron James wearing the mid/late '00s era blue alternate uniform.

The Cavaliers switched to a modified version of the team's classic wine and gold scheme in the 2003–04 season (metallic gold and crimson shade of wine), with navy blue added to the color scheme.

The home uniform was white, with the word "Cavaliers" in wine lettering with gold trim on the front, the player's name in wine lettering with gold trim on the back, the player's numbers in navy blue, and wine and gold trim on the sides.

The team's standard road uniform was wine-colored, with the word "Cleveland," the player's name, and the player's numbers all in white lettering with gold trim, as well as white and gold trim on the sides.

The team's third/alternate uniform was navy blue with the word "Cleveland", the player's name, and the player's numbers all in white lettering with gold trim, as well as a wine, gold, and navy blue checkerboard trim. The checkerboard trim was a tribute to the original Cavaliers uniforms from the '70s.

The logo used is a gold sword piercing to the words 'Cleveland Cavaliers' in white and navy trim, with a wine basketball surrounding it.

The return to "old school" wine and gold

The Cavaliers debuted new uniforms before the start of the 2010–11 NBA season, to coincide with the team returning to the original shades of wine and gold used from 1970 to 1983.[45]

The home uniform is white with a wine and gold horizontal stripe trim on the collar, sleeves, waistband, and pant legs, "Cavaliers" (in block style lettering) in wine on the front of the jersey, with wine lettering for the name and number, and white shoes and socks.

The road uniform is wine colored with the same stripe trim, "Cleveland" in gold on the front of the jersey, and gold lettering on the name and number, with black shoes and socks.

An alternate third uniform was added for the 2012–13 season, which is gold with "CAVS" in wine on the front of the jersey, wine lettering on the name and number, white socks and shoes, and the same stripe trim as the other uniforms.

All uniforms have the team motto "All For One, One for All" stitched on the inside of the collar, and the secondary "Sword C" logo on the side of the pant legs. The logo used is the same piercing sword logo, updated to the classic wine and gold scheme.

For the 2014–15 season, a second alternate uniform (and fourth uniform overall) was added, which is navy blue (a callback to the 1987-94 style) with "CAVS" and the player's number in wine with gold trim, the player's name on the back of the jersey in gold, and the "Sword C" logo on the side of the pant legs.

File:Cleveland Cavaliers home and road uniforms 2010.jpg
The current home and road uniforms of the Cleveland Cavaliers, first worn during the 2010–11 NBA season.[45]

Special uniforms

Beginning in the 2008–09 season, the Cavaliers began wearing special "mash-up" uniforms (combining the style from one era with the color scheme of another) on select "Cavs Fanatic" Nights—a promotion to plug the fan site.

In '08–'10 the team wore the original "Feathered C" uniforms but with the 1994–2003 shade of blue combined with the classic wine and gold shade.

In 2009–10, the team wore their 1987–89 uniforms, but in the classic wine and gold from the 'Miracle of Richfield' era.

In 2010–11, the team wore the 2005–10 checkerboard alternate uniforms, but in the 1994–2003 color scheme of blue, black and orange.

In 2011–12, the team wore a variation of the current uniform design, but in the classic shade of blue used from 1987 to 1994. The word 'CAVS', player name and numbers are in the current lettering and in the wine and gold scheme.

Home arenas

Cleveland Clinic Courts

In 2007 the Cavaliers opened their practice facility and team headquarters, Cleveland Clinic Courts, in Independence, Ohio (a Cleveland suburb). It replaced the former single-court center the team used within Quicken Loans Arena.


Current roster

Cleveland Cavaliers roster
Players Coaches
Pos. # Name Height Weight DOB (YYYY–MM–DD) From
G 8 Dellavedova, Matthew 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) 200 lb (91 kg) 1990–09–08 Saint Mary's
G 12 Harris, Joe 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 215 lb (98 kg) 1991–09–07 Virginia
C 33 Haywood, Brendan 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m) 263 lb (119 kg) 1979–11–27 North Carolina
G 2 Irving, Kyrie (C) 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 193 lb (88 kg) 1992–03–23 Duke
F 23 James, LeBron (C) 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 250 lb (113 kg) 1984–12–30 St. Vincent–St. Mary HS (OH)
G/F 1 Jones, James 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 215 lb (98 kg) 1980–10–04 Miami (FL)
F/C 0 Love, Kevin Injured 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 243 lb (110 kg) 1988–09–07 UCLA
F 31 Marion, Shawn 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m) 228 lb (103 kg) 1978–05–07 UNLV
G/F 18 Miller, Mike 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) 218 lb (99 kg) 1980–02–19 Florida
C 20 Mozgov, Timofey 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) 250 lb (113 kg) 1986–07–16 Russia
C 3 Perkins, Kendrick 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m) 270 lb (122 kg) 1984–11–10 Clifton J. Ozen (TX)
G 4 Shumpert, Iman 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m) 220 lb (100 kg) 1990–06–26 Georgia Tech
G/F 5 Smith, J. R. 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 220 lb (100 kg) 1985–09–09 St. Benedict's Prep (NJ)
F/C 13 Thompson, Tristan 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m) 238 lb (108 kg) 1991–03–13 Texas
F/C 17 Varejão, Anderson Injured 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m) 267 lb (121 kg) 1982–09–28 Brazil
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)
Athletic trainer(s)
  • Michael Mancias
  • Yusuke Nakayama
  • Steve Spiro (head trainer)
Strength and conditioning coach(es)
  • Derek Millender (performance specialist)

  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • (DL) On assignment to D-League affiliate
  • Injured Injured

Last transaction: 2015–04–20

Retained draft rights

The Cavaliers hold the draft rights to the following unsigned draft picks who have been playing outside the NBA. A drafted player, either an international draftee or a college draftee who is not signed by the team that drafted him, is allowed to sign with any non-NBA teams. In this case, the team retains the player's draft rights in the NBA until one year after the player's contract with the non-NBA team ends.[46] This list includes draft rights that were acquired from trades with other teams.

Draft Round Pick Player Pos. Nationality Current team Note(s) Ref
2012 2 57 Karaman, İlkanİlkan Karaman F 23x15px Turkey Free agent Acquired from the Brooklyn Nets [47]
2011 2 54 Mačvan, MilanMilan Mačvan F 23x15px Serbia Partizan NIS (Serbia) [48]
2008 2 56 Kaun, AlexanderAlexander Kaun C 23x15px Russia CSKA Moscow (Russia) Acquired from the Seattle SuperSonics [49]
2006 2 55 Ugboaja, EjikeEjike Ugboaja F 23x15px Nigeria Free agent [50]
2006 2 56 Bavčić, EdinEdin Bavčić F 23x15px Bosnia and Herzegovina Sigal Prishtina (Kosovo) Acquired from the Toronto Raptors (via Philadelphia, New Orleans and Brooklyn) [47]

Retired numbers

Cleveland Cavaliers retired numbers
# Name Position Tenure
7 Bobby "Bingo" Smith G/F 1970–79
11 Žydrūnas Ilgauskas C 1996–2010
22 Larry Nance F 1988–94
25 Mark Price G 1986–95
34 Austin Carr G 1971–80
42 Nate Thurmond C 1975–77
43 Brad Daugherty C 1986–94


Ground-breaking players

File:Joe Tait.jpg
Former longtime Cavs broadcaster Joe Tait, who won the Curt Gowdy Award in 2010.
  • Lance Allred – 2007–2008 (first deaf player in the NBA)

Basketball Hall of Famers

Curt Gowdy Award winners

  • Joe Tait - 2010 (team announcer 1970–1981; 1983–2011)

High points

Franchise leaders


Per game

Per 48 minutes

Individual awards

NBA All-Star Weekend


File:Austin Carr and Fred McLeod.jpg
Current Cavaliers television announcers Austin Carr (left) and Fred McLeod (right)

WTAM (1100 AM) and WMMS (100.7 FM) currently serve as the flagship stations for the Cavaliers Radio Network.[53] John Michael (play by play) and former Cavaliers star Jim Chones (analyst) are the radio team, with WTAM morning co-host/sports director Mike Snyder hosting the pregame/halftime/postgame shows. Either Chones (home games) or former Ohio State standout and NBA player Brad Sellers (road games) will join Snyder for the postgame show.

WLFM-LP (87.7 FM) serves as the Spanish language radio home of the Cavaliers, with the 2014–15 season marking the first time the Cavaliers have been broadcast in a second language. Rafael Hernandez Brito serves as the Spanish language play-by-play announcer, as well as hosting pregame and postgame shows.[54]

On television, the Cavaliers air on Fox Sports Ohio, with select games simulcast on WUAB (TV channel 43).[55] The broadcast team includes play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod; analyst Austin Carr, a former Cavalier; and sideline reporter Allie Clifton. Jeff Phelps and former Cavalier Campy Russell host the pregame, halftime, and postgame shows.[55]




Mid 90s/early 00s era Cavaliers mascot Whammer

Whammer is the former mascot of the Cavs. He is a polar bear who is said to have grown up in the tundra and still makes occasional appearances throughout the season at Cavalier games. At halftime he used to dunk a basketball. Whammer's debut was in a November 9, 1995 game against the Chicago Bulls.

Recently when Moondog, the current Cavaliers mascot was asked what Whammer was up to these days he responded "He e-mails the braintrust of the Cavs about twice a week trying to get his old job back. I throw him a bone occasionally and invite him back, mostly to mock him. Finally he's good for a laugh."[56]


File:Cleveland Cavaliers masocts.jpg
Current Cavaliers mascots Sir C.C. (left) and Moondog (right)


Moondog is the official mascot of the Cavaliers. Like a growing number of NBA Mascots, the character has a unique connection not just to the team, but to the city and surrounding area. Cleveland is known worldwide as the rock and roll city, due to famed Cleveland radio disc jockey Alan Freed, who popularized the phrase "rock and roll", breaking new ground and sparking a music explosion.

Freed called himself the "Moondog", and his listeners were "Moondoggers". When the Cavaliers looked to create a new mascot which represents the city, Moondog was a natural selection. Like Alan Freed, the mascot aims to be innovative, fun-loving, passionate and controversial.

Moondog was an NBA All-Star selection in 2003 and 2004. He is best known for his behind the back half-court shot and fierce loyalty to his Cavaliers. His first appearance was on November 5, 2003.

Sir C.C.

On November 27, 2010 during the Cavaliers-Memphis Grizzlies game, a new mascot debuted named Sir C.C., who is a swashbuckler character (a la The Three Musketeers) and teams up with Moondog to provide gametime entertainment at home games.


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External links