Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers
2018–19 Cleveland Cavaliers season
Cleveland Cavaliers logo
ConferenceEastern
DivisionCentral
Founded1970
HistoryCleveland Cavaliers
1970–present[1][2]
ArenaQuicken Loans Arena
LocationCleveland, Ohio
Team colorsWine, gold, navy blue, black[3][4]
                   
Main sponsorGoodyear Tire and Rubber Company[5]
General managerKoby Altman
Head coachTyronn Lue
OwnershipDan Gilbert (majority)[6]
Gordon Gund, Usher Raymond (minority)
Affiliation(s)Canton Charge
Championships1 (2016)
Conference titles5 (2007, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Division titles7 (1976, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Retired numbers8 (7, 11, 22, 25, 34, 42, 43, Microphone)
Websitewww.nba.com/cavaliers
Uniforms

The Cleveland Cavaliers, often referred to as the Cavs, are an American professional basketball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Cavs compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Eastern Conference Central Division. The team began play as an expansion team in 1970, along with the Portland Trail Blazers and Buffalo Braves. Home games were first held at Cleveland Arena from 1970 to 1974, followed by the Richfield Coliseum from 1974 to 1994. Since 1994, the Cavs have played home games at Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland, which is shared with the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League and the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League. Dan Gilbert has owned the team since March 2005.

The Cavaliers opened their inaugural season losing their first 15 games and struggled in their early years, placing no better than sixth in the Eastern Conference during their first five seasons. The team won their first Central Division title in 1976, which also marked the first winning season and playoff appearance in franchise history, where they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. The franchise was purchased by Ted Stepien in 1980. Stepien's tenure as owner was marked by six coaching changes, questionable trades and draft decisions, and poor attendance, leading to $15 million in financial losses. The Cavs went 66–180 in that time and endured a 24-game losing streak spanning the 1981–82 and 1982–83 seasons.

George and Gordon Gund purchased the franchise in 1983. During the latter half of the 1980s and through much of the 1990s, the Cavs were a regular playoff contender, led by players such as Mark Price and Brad Daugherty, and advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1992. After the team's playoff appearance in 1998, however, the Cavs had six consecutive losing seasons with no playoff action. Cleveland was awarded with the top overall pick in the 2003 draft, and they selected LeBron James. Behind James and Zydrunas Ilgauskas, the Cavaliers again became a regular playoff contender by 2005. They made their first appearance in the NBA Finals in 2007 after winning the first Eastern Conference championship in franchise history. After failing to return to the NBA Finals in the ensuing three seasons, James joined the Miami Heat in 2010. As a result, the Cavaliers finished the 2010–11 season last in the conference, enduring a 26-game losing streak that, as of 2017, ranks as the longest in NBA history for a single season and second overall. Between 2010 and 2014, however, the team won the top pick in the NBA draft lottery three times, first in 2011 where they selected Kyrie Irving, and again in 2013 and 2014.

LeBron James returned to the Cavs in 2014 and led the team to four straight NBA Finals appearances. In 2016, the Cavaliers won their first NBA Championship, marking Cleveland's first major sports title since 1964. The 2016 NBA Finals victory over the Golden State Warriors marked the first time in Finals history a team had come back to win the series after trailing three games to one. The Cavaliers have made 22 playoff appearances, and won seven Central Division titles, five Eastern Conference titles, and one NBA title.

History

The Cavaliers began play in the 1970–71 NBA season as an expansion team. They set losing records in each of their first five seasons before winning their first division title in 1976. That team was led by Austin Carr, Bobby "Bingo" Smith, Jim Chones, Dick Snyder, Nate Thurmond, and head coach Bill Fitch, and was remembered most for the "Miracle at Richfield", in which the Cavaliers defeated the Washington Bullets 4–3 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They won Game 7, 87–85, on a shot by Snyder with four seconds to go. The Cavaliers moved on to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time, but were without Chones after he broke his foot in a practice right before the series opener. As a result, the Cavaliers went on to lose 4–2 to the Boston Celtics.[7] They made playoff appearances in the following two seasons before going on a six-year playoff hiatus.

The early 1980s were marked by Ted Stepien's ownership, who had a disastrous run as owner and de facto general manager between 1980 and 1983. During Stepien's reign, the Cavaliers made a practice of trading future draft picks for marginal veteran players. His most notable deal sent a 1982 first-round pick to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Dan Ford and the 22nd overall pick in 1980. As a result of Stepien's dealings, the NBA introduced the "Ted Stepien Rule", which prohibits teams from trading first-round draft picks in successive seasons.[8] The Cavaliers went 66–180, dropped to the bottom of the league in attendance and lost $15 million during Stepien's three years as the owner.[9] He went through six coaches during that span, including four during the 1981–82 season.[9] The team finished 15–67, and between March and November 1982, the team had a 24-game losing streak—one of the NBA's all-time longest losing streaks. George and Gordon Gund purchased the Cavaliers from Stepien in 1983.[8]

The Cavaliers made the playoffs ten times between 1984–85 and 1997–98. In 1988–89, the Cavaliers had their best season to date, finishing the regular season with 57–25 record behind the likes of Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Ron Harper and Larry Nance, and head coach Lenny Wilkens. They had their second 57-win season in 1991–92 and reached the Eastern Conference Finals for just the second time in franchise history. However, between 1998–99 and 2004–05, the Cavaliers failed to make a playoff appearance. The 2002–03 season saw the Cavaliers finish 17–65, tied for the worst record in the NBA.

Cavaliers forward and Akron native LeBron James, who was the first overall pick of the 2003 NBA draft. A perennial NBA All-Star and a four-time NBA MVP winner, he led the team to its first NBA Finals in 2007 and their first championship in 2016.

The Cavaliers' luck changed as they landed the number 1 pick in the 2003 NBA draft. With it, the team selected heralded forward and future NBA MVP LeBron James, an Akron native who had already risen to national stardom at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. In 2005, the team would be sold to businessman Dan Gilbert. That year, the team also hired head coach Mike Brown, and a new general manager, former Cavaliers forward Danny Ferry. Over the next few years, the Cavaliers built a team around James and Žydrūnas Ilgauskas by adding players including Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes, and Anderson Varajao. Under this new leadership, the Cavaliers made it to five straight playoffs from 2006 to 2010, advancing to at least the second round each time. The 2006–07 Cavaliers advanced to the franchise's first NBA Finals, but were swept by the more experienced San Antonio Spurs. The 2008–09 Cavaliers won a franchise record 66 games, including a franchise-best 39–2 record at home, but lost the Eastern Conference Finals in six games to the Orlando Magic. Despite the addition of four-time NBA champion Shaquille O'Neal, the 2009–10 Cavaliers were unable to return to the Eastern Conference Finals after losing to the Boston Celtics in the second round.

With the Cavaliers out of the playoffs, the focus 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.[10] 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. After a 19–win season in 2010–11 (the 42-win difference being the biggest single-season drop in NBA history), the Cavaliers began a rebuild in 2011 with the addition of Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick in the draft.

In 2014, James made the decision to return to the Cavaliers after four seasons in Miami. While the Heat had a 224–88 record during James' four-year tenure and won NBA titles in 2012 and 2013, the Cavaliers went 97–215 and finished in last place in their division three times.[11] The Cavaliers made several moves to build a championship-contender around James, most notably acquiring power forward Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, which created what many fans and media referred to a "Big Three" with James, Love, and Irving. This trio would lead the Cavaliers to three consecutive finals appearances in 2015, 2016, and 2017 against the Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers would lose the 2015 Finals in six games, win the 2016 Finals in seven games, and lose the 2017 Finals in five games. Winning the 2016 NBA Championship marked the Cavaliers' first title in franchise history, as they became the first team to come back from a 3–1 deficit to win the Finals. It was also Cleveland's first championship in major professional sports since the 1964 Browns, signaling the end of the so-called Cleveland sports curse. Irving was traded in the 2017 offseason for Isaiah Thomas among other pieces, and despite roster woes throughout the 2017-18 season, the Cavaliers reached their fourth straight Finals, losing once again to the Warriors in a sweep.

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