The Cleveland Cavaliers first began play in the NBA in 1970 as an expansion team under the ownership of Nick Mileti. 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.
In 1980, after just a few months, Zingale sold the team to Nationwide Advertising magnate Ted Stepien on April 12, 1980. The new owner 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 Stepien’s 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.”
Though Stepien eventually threatened to move the franchise to Toronto and rename it the Toronto Towers, brothers George and Gordon Gund purchased the franchise in the mid-1980s and decided to keep the team in Cleveland. 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.
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. Dan Gilbert – who has owned the Cavaliers since 2005. Under Gilbert’s watch the team has won one NBA Championship. three Eastern Conference titles, and four Central Division titles.
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.
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. 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 an NBA championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers before LeBron James wins one, although James would win a championship before the Cavaliers 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.
On June 25, 2014, James opted out of his contract with the Heat, officially becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1. On July 11, he revealed via a first-person essay in Sports Illustrated that he intended to rejoin the Cavaliers. In contrast to The Decision, his announcement to return to Cleveland was well received. On July 12, he officially signed with the team. A month after James’ signing, the Cavaliers acquired Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, forming a new star trio along with Kyrie Irving.
The 2016 NBA Playoffs were the postseason tournament of the National Basketball Association (NBA)’s 2015 – 2016 season. The tournament ended with the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers defeating the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors 4 games to 3 in the NBA Finals. LeBron James was named NBA Finals MVP.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, also known 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 in 1970. Since 1994, the team has played its home games at Quicken Loans Arena, which is shared with the Cleveland Gladiators of the Arena Football League and the Cleveland Monsters of the American Hockey League.
1970 – Present / National Basketball Association
1970 – Present / Cleveland Cavaliers
Cavaliers – 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 The Plain Dealer, supporters preferred it to “Jays”, “Foresters” and “Presidents.”
NBA Championships 1
2020 – Present / Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
2005 – 2019 / Quicken Loans Arena
1994 – 2004 / Gund Arena
1974 – 1994 / Coliseum at Richfield
1970 – 1974 / Cleveland Arena
2004 – Present / Dan Gilbert, Usher Raymond, Gordon Gund
1983 – 2004 / Gordon and George Gund III
1980 – 1983 / Ted Stepien
1979 – 1980 / Joe Zingale
1970 – 1979 / Nick Mileti
7 Bobby “Bingo” Smith
11 Žydrūnas Ilgauskas
22 Larry Nance
25 Mark Price
34 Austin Carr
42 Nate Thurmond
43 Brad Daugherty
– Joe Tait
*Blue is this team’s history