The Cleveland Cavaliers (also known as the Cavs) is a professional basketball franchise/team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They began playing in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a 1970 expansion team.
The Cavaliers opened their inaugural season losing their first 15 games and struggled in their early years, placing no better than 6th 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 five 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, never better than 8th in the conference, and endured a 24-game losing streak spanning the 1981–82 and 1982–83 seasons. Stepien's repeated trades of the team's first overall draft pick led to the NBA creating the "Stepien rule" to prevent such trades.
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, finishing no better than 9th in the conference. 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, followed by division titles in 2008 and 2009, the first division titles since 1976. After the 2009–10 season, however, James signed with the Miami Heat and 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 2014–15 and led the team back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010, where they claimed their second Eastern Conference championship. The following season, Cleveland again won the Eastern Conference and returned to the NBA Finals, where they won their first NBA championship and first major sports title in the city 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. Through the 2016–17 season, the Cavs have made 21 playoff appearances, and won six Central Division titles, four Eastern Conference titles, and one NBA title.
- Cleveland Arena (1970-1974)
- Coliseum at Richfield (1974-1994)
- Quicken Loans Arena (formely called Gund Arena) (1994-present)
1970-74: Expansion growing painsThe Cavaliers first began play in the NBA in 1970 as an expansion team. Under the direction of coach Bill Fitch, they compiled a league-worst 15-67 record. However, the team began to build around the 1971 draft pick, Austin Carr. He scored 63 points in a single game.
he 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 - 20 miles (32 km) 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. That season, the Cavaliers finished with a 40–42 record, falling just short of a playoff berth.
1975-1979: The Miracle of Richfield Cavs" era
In the 1975-1976 season, with Carr, Bingo Smith, Jim Chones, Dick Snyder, and newly acquired Nate Thurmond, Fitch led the Cavs, as the team is commonly nicknamed, to a 49-33 record, which was the best record in the Central Division. He received the league's Coach of the Year award as the Cavs made their first-ever playoff appearance.
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." However, hampered by injuries, particularly to Jim Chones, the Cavs proceeded to lose to the Boston Celtics in Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA playoffs.
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.
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.
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".
Also during this period, new owner Stepien quickly hired and fired a succession of coaches, made a number of poor trades and poor free agent signing decisions. Stepien's poor trades cost the team several first round draft picks, and led to a rule change in the NBA prohibiting teams from trading away first round draft picks in consecutive years. The rule is known as the "Ted Stepien Rule." Stepien threatened to move the franchise to Toronto, but brothers George Gund and Gordon Gund purchased the franchise in the mid 1980s and decided to keep the team in Cleveland. In 1993, Toronto would, in fact, get an expansion franchise, the Toronto Raptors.
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 season. The Cavs finally returned to the playoffs in 1985, only to lose to the eventual Eastern Conference Champion 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, Edgar Jones, 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 making the playoffs. During a seven-season period, the Cavaliers had nine head coaches: Stan Albeck, Bill Musselman, Don Delaney, Bob Kloppenburg, Chuck Daly (who would later go on to coach division rival Detroit Pistons to two championships, with Bill Laimbeer, who played for him during their stint with the Cavs, as one of the Pistons' star players) 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).
1986-1992: Daugherty/Price/Nance & coach Lenny Wilkins era
In 1986, under the Gund brothers as owners, the team acquired, either through trades or the draft, Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Ron Harper, and Larry Nance. These players (minus Harper, who was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers for the rights to Danny Ferry) formed the core of the team that led the Cavs to eight playoff seasons in the next nine years, including three 50-wins plus seasons. However, in 1989, the Cavs were paired against the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs. It was a best-of-five-series. Cleveland managed to beat the Bulls in overtime, 108-105 and tied the series 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 1, with 3 seconds left. Chicago called time. 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, and the game itself one of the greatests. But the pinnacle of the Cavs' success came in the 1991-1992 season, when they compiled a 57-25 record and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals, losing again to the Chicago Bulls 4-2. Cleveland had no success in the playoffs during this period.
After then, an era of decline came for Cavs. With retirements and departures of Nance,Daugherty and Price, team lost its power and no longer was able even to fight for playoffs, where once they used to be the greatest trouble against the Bulls.
Mike Fratello era:1995-1999
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.
For several years under leadership of point guard Terrell Brandon, Cavs had become the most defensive team of NBA, setting its tactics all on defense,being the NBA's least point conceding team.But offensive inproductivity caused Cavs to have no success in this era.
A Period of Struggle: 1999-2003
After the successes of the Lenny Wilkens and Fratello coached teams of the late 1980's - mid/late 1990's came several losing seasons. Those seasons saw the Cavs drop to the bottom of the Central Division standings, becoming a perennial lottery draft team. After another disappointing season in 2002-2003, the Cavs landed the number one draft pick in the NBA Lottery.
King James: Lebron's first stint with the Cavs (2003-10)
The Cavs selected high school phenom LeBron James. James' status as both a local star (having played his high school basketball at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in nearby Akron) and one of the most highly touted prospects in NBA history led many to view his selection as a turning point in the franchise's history. The 2003-2004 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 2004-2005 season. James blossomed into a superstar, increasing his points average, shooting percentage, assists average, and rebounds average. Despite the loss of Carlos Boozer under very dubious circumstances, James teamed with Drew Gooden and Zydrunas Ilgauskas to form the core of the Cavs team. After a promising start when the team seemed to be locked firmly into the Eastern Conference's 5th playoff spot, the Cavs began a downward spiral that eventually led to the firing of coach Paul Silas and general manager Jim Paxson. The Cavs failed to make the playoffs that year, tied with the resurgent New Jersey Nets for the eighth (and final) playoff spot (the Nets owned the tiebreaker over the Cavs).
The 2005 offseason was one of many changes for the Cavaliers. The team hired a new coach, Mike Brown, and a new general manager, former Cavaliers forward Danny Ferry. The team also signed free agents Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, and Damon Jones (four-year, $16 million for Damon) to multi-year contracts. Along with new owner Dan Gilbert, the Cavaliers' front office consists of individuals new to their respective positions. Despite the relative inexperience of many of these newcomers, the franchise sees great hope in rising star LeBron James, whom many have compared to all-time great Michael Jordan.
In March, the Cavaliers clinched their first playoff appearance since the 1997-98 season. They wound up receiving the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference and faced the Washington Wizards in the first round. After the two teams split the first two games in Cleveland, LeBron James scored a game-winning basket with 5.7 seconds remaining in game 3. The Wizards then won game 4 to tie the series. With the series back in Cleveland, the Cavs emerged victorious in the fifth game, 121-120 in an exciting overtime contest that saw LeBron James hit the game winning shot with 0.9 seconds left on the clock. Game 6 also went to overtime, on a Gilbert Arenas three-point shot at the end of regulation to tie the score. In the extra session, however, Damon Jones nailed a long jumper in the final seconds to clinch the game for the Cavs - advancing them into the second round for the first time in 13 years.
In the second round, the Cavs lost the first two games to the Detroit Pistons, but then won the next three, including one at the Palace of Auburn Hills (producing the Pistons' only three game losing streak of the season). However, they lost a close Game 6 at home and then fell to Detroit, 79-61, in game 7. This game produced two records of futility for the Cleveland organization. First, they earned the record for least points scored in a Game 7, and secondly, they tied the record for least points scored in a half with 23.
The two playoff rounds were a showcase for the emergence of LeBron James, which he has achieved many "youngest ever to...." records considering his age (21). More importantly, it marks the rebirth of a once stagnant basketball franchise.
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 deeper, more experienced 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.
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. 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.
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 a NBA championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers before LeBron James wins one, 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
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.
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 spor
2011–14: Rebuilding with Kyrie Irving
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. 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. 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. In August 2012, the Cavaliers signed veteran free agent swingman C.J. Miles. The team struggled in 2012-13, which led to them sacking head coach Byron Scott after a 64–166 record in three seasons. 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.
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.  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. The Cavaliers signed free agent forward Earl Clark to a two-year contract and veteran guard Jarrett Jack to a four-year deal. The Cavaliers also signed two-time NBA Champion and former All-Star center Andrew Bynum to a one-year contract. 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.
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. 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.
2014–present: "The Decision 2.0" LeBron returns/Kevin Love trade
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. 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. On June 26, the Cavaliers selected swingman Andrew Wiggins from Kansas as the No. 1 pick of the 2014 NBA Draft.
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. 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. The next day, the Cavaliers signed another one of James' former two-time champion Heat teammates, swingman James Jones, to a one-year contract.
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. By NBA rules, the deal could not become official until August 23, upon which it was formally announced. 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.
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.
The New "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. 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. 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 crucial three-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. t 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. Despite that, the Cavs then beat the Chicago Bulls 4-2 in the and swept the Atlanta Hawks 4-0 to win the team's second Eastern Conference title and advance to the NBA Finals.
2015 NBA Finals: "The Grit Squad"
Games 1 & 2 of the 2015 NBA Finals saw a pair of overtime games, in which game 1 went to the favored Golden State Warriors and game 2 went to the Cavaliers. Prior to Game 2, it was announced that an already hobbled Kyrie Irving suffered a broken kneecap in game 1, and would miss the rest of the season.
The Cavs - who had been dubbed by James as "The Grit Squad" due to the team adopting a tough, physical style of play in the absence of All-Stars Irving and Kevin Love - were able to take a 2-1 series lead with a game 3 win in Cleveland. The city quickly embraced the team's new image, identifying itself through the team's new found scrappy style of play. Backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova in particular became the embodiment of this new image, becoming something of a cult hero in Cleveland and even nationally due to his hard nosed playing style.
However, beginning with game 4 the Warriors switched to a smaller, faster lineup (starting swingman Andre Iguodala in place of center Andrew Bogut), the undermanned and exhausted Cavs proceeded to lose the next three games to Golden State, thus losing the series 4-2. James finished the series averaging a historic 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game.
On July 1, 2015, It was reported that Iman Shumpert, and Kevin Love all agreed to long term contract extensions with the Cavaliers.
In July 2015, it was reported that former Cavaliers guard and James teammate Mo Williams would be returning to the team upon signing a 2-year, $4.3 million contract.
Note: W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Percentage
|1970-71||15||67||.183||Did not make playoffs|
|1971-72||23||59||.280||Did not make playoffs|
|1972-73||32||50||.390||Did not make playoffs|
|1973-74||29||53||.354||Did not make playoffs|
|1974-75||40||42||.488||Did not make playoffs|
|1975-76||49||33||.598|| Won Conference Semifinals|
Lost Conference Finals
| Cleveland 4, Washington 3|
Boston 4, Cleveland 2
|1976-77||43||39||.524||Lost First Round||Washington 2, Cleveland 1|
|1977-78||43||39||.524||Lost First Round||New York 2, Cleveland 0|
|1978-79||30||52||.366||Did not make playoffs|
|1979-80||37||45||.451||Did not make playoffs|
|1980-81||28||54||.341||Did not make playoffs|
|1981-82||15||67||.183||Did not make playoffs|
|1982-83||23||59||.280||Did not make playoffs|
|1983-84||28||54||.341||Did not make playoffs|
|1984-85||36||46||.439||Lost First Round||Boston 3, Cleveland 1|
|1985-86||29||53||.354||Did not make playoffs|
|1986-87||31||51||.378||Did not make playoffs|
|1987-88||42||40||.512||Lost First Round||Chicago 3, Cleveland 2|
|1988-89||57||25||.695||Lost First Round||Chicago 3, Cleveland 2|
|1989-90||42||40||.512||Lost First Round||Philadelphia 3, Cleveland 2|
|1990-91||33||49||.402||Did not make playoffs|
|1991-92||57||25||.695|| Won First Round|
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
| Cleveland 3, New Jersey 2|
Cleveland 4, Boston 3
Chicago 4, Cleveland 2
|1992-93||54||28||.659|| Won First Round|
Lost Conference Semifinals
| Cleveland 3, New Jersey 2|
Chicago 4, Cleveland 0
|1993-94||47||35||.573||Lost First Round||Chicago 3, Cleveland 0|
|1994-95||43||39||.524||Lost First Round||New York 3, Cleveland 1|
|1995-96||47||35||.573||Lost First Round||New York 3, Cleveland 0|
|1996-97||42||40||.512||Did not make playoffs|
|1997-98||47||35||.573||Lost First Round||Indiana 3, Cleveland 1|
|1998-99||22||28||.440||Did not make playoffs|
|1999-2000||32||50||.390||Did not make playoffs|
|2000-01||30||52||.366||Did not make playoffs|
|2001-02||29||53||.354||Did not make playoffs|
|2002-03||17||65||.207||Did not make playoffs|
|2003-04||35||47||.427||Did not make playoffs|
|2004-05||42||40||.512||Did not make playoffs|
|2005-06||50||32||.610|| Won First Round|
Lost Conference Semifinals
| Cleveland 4, Washington 2|
Detroit 4, Cleveland 3
|2006-07||50||32||.610|| Won First Round|
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Lost NBA Finals
| Cleveland 4, Washington 0|
Cleveland 4, Nets 2
Cleveland 4, Pistons 2
Cleveland 0, Spurs 4
|2007-08||45||37||.549|| Won First Round|
Lost Conference Semifinals
| Cleveland 4, Wizards 2|
Cleveland 3 Celtics 4
|2008-09||66||16||.805|| Won First Round|
Won Conference Semifinals
Lost Conference Finals
| Cleveland 4, Pistons 0|
Cleveland 4, Hawks 0
Cleveland 2, Magic 4
|2009-10||61||21||.744|| Won First Round|
Lost Conference Semifinals
| Cleveland 4, Bulls 1|
Cleveland 2, Celtics 4
|2010-2011||19||63||.232||Did not make playoffs|
|2011-2012||21||45||.318||Did not make playoffs|
|2012-2013||24||58||.293||Did not make playoffs|
|2013-2014||33||49||.402||Did not make playoffs|
|2014-2015||53||29||.646|| Won First Round|
Won Conference Semifinals
Won Conference Finals
Lost NBA Finals
| Cleveland 4, Boston 0|
Cleveland 4, Bulls 2
Cleveland 4, Hawks 0
Cleveland 2, Warriors 4
|Regular Season And Playoff results||1755||2055||.461|
Current all-time stats as of July 10, 2015
The Cavaliers have had many uniform changes throughout their history.
|1970-1974||Yellow with red outline and red Caviliers lettering.||Red with yellow outline and yellow Caviliers lettering.|
|1974-1981||Yellow with red and white checkered outline and red Caviliers lettering.||Red with yellow and red checkered outline and yellow Caviliers lettering.|
|1981-1983||Tan brown with Cleveland written in red, red and white stripes, and red outline.||Red with Cleveland written in tan brown, tan brown and white stripes, and tan brown outline.|
|1983-1987||White with Cavs written in orange.||Orange with Cavs written in white. The Cavaliers renamed themselves the Cavs and would stay that way until 2003|
|1987-1989||White with Cavs written in blue.||Blue with Cavs written in orange.|
|1989-1994||Same as 1987-1989.||Name changed from Cavs to Cleveland.|
|1994-1997||White with Cavs written in orange and with a blue swoosh below the name.||Black with Cleveland written in orange diagonally and with a blue swoosh below the name.|
|1997-1999||Same as 1994-1997 except Cavs was outlined in black.||Same as 1994-1997 except color in Cleveland was lightened.|
|1999-2003||White with Cavs written in blue and single orange stripe on right side.||Black with Cleveland written in white and single white stripe on right side.|
|2003-2010||White with Cavaliers written in wine and wine stripes on both sides.||Wine with Cavaliers written in white and gold stripes on both sides.|
|2010-present||White with Cavaliers written in wine and a wine and gold horizontal stripe trim on the collar, sleeves, waistband, and pant legs.||Wine with Cleveland written in gold and colored with the same stripe trim.|
Players of note
- Wayne Embry (Former team president and first African American to serve in that role in the NBA; inducted as a contributor.)
- Nate Thurmond
- Lenny Wilkens (Inducted as both player and coach.)
- Lebron James
Not to be forgotten:
- Terrell Brandon
- Jim Chones
- Brad Daugherty
- Craig Ehlo
- Danny Ferry
- World B. Free
- Ron Harper
- Tyrone Hill
- John Johnson
- Shawn Kemp
- Steve Kerr
- Andre Miller
- Larry Nance
- Wesley Person
- Bobby Phills
- Mark Price
- Campy Russell
- Bob Sura
- John "Hot Rod" Williams
- 7 Bingo Smith, 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
- 4 - Jared Blossomgame (TW)
- 10 - Alec Burks
- 8 - Jordan Clarkson
- 18 - Matthew Dellavedova
- 9 - Channing Frye
- 31 - John Henson
- 1 - Rodney Hood
- 21 - Jalen Jones (TW)
- 0 - Kevin Love
- 22 - Larry Nance Jr.
- 12 - David Nwaba
- 16 - Cedi Osman
- 2 - Collin Sexton
- 5 - J.R. Smith
- 13 - Tristan Thompson
- 41 - Ante Zizic
Coaches and others
- Bill Fitch 1970-1979
- Stan Albeck 1979-1980
- Bill Musselman 1980-1981
- Don Delaney 1980-1982
- Bob Kloppenburg 1981-1982
- Chuck Daly 1981-1982
- Bill Musselman 1981-1982
- Tom Nissalke 1982-1984
- George Karl 1984-1986
- Gene Littles 1986 (interim)
- Lenny Wilkens 1986-1993
- Mike Fratello 1993-1999
- Randy Wittman 1999-2001
- John Lucas 2001-2003
- Keith Smart 2002-2003
- Paul Silas 2003-2005
- Brendan Malone 2005 (interim)
- Byron Scott 2010-2013
- Mike Brown 2005-2010, 2013-2014
- David Blatt 2014-2016
- Tyronn Lue 2016-Present
WTAM (AM 1100) in Cleveland is the flagship station of a 16 station Cavaliers radio network . Veteran broadcaster Joe Tait has served as the team's radio play-by-play announcer since its inception in 1970, with a brief break away from the team in the period when it was owned by Ted Stepien. Tait is considered one of the prominent announcers in professional sports.
Starting in 2006, play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod and analyst Scott Williams, a former Cavaliers player, will handle local TV commentary. McLeod has been named as a replacement for long-time Cavs TV analyst Michael Reghi. Cavs legend Austin Carr is an analyst for games on WUAB.
- Cleveland Cavaliers official web site
- Basketball-Reference.com: Cleveland Cavaliers
- Cleveland Cavaliers InsideHoops.com coverage
- Cleveland Cavaliers Historical web site
- Sports E-Cyclopedia
- Cleveland Cavaliers Discussion Forums
|National Basketball Association|