Cleveland Cavaliers HISTORY

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Retired Numbers and Wall of Honor
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20+ pt home losing streak
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Expansion draft
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Season Records

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Quick facts:

Founded:                          1970    
Cost:                             3.7 Million
Arena:                            Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse  
Division Championships:           7 (76,09,10,15,16,17,18)
Central Division Championships:   7 (76,09,10,15,16,17,18)
Eastern Conference Championships: 5 (07,15,16,17,18)
NBA Titles:                       1 (2016)
Playoffs:                         23

LeBron James and the Cavs celebrate the teams first NBA title

Name History:
In 1970, Cleveland's newspaper, The Plain Dealer, held a contest to name the city's new basketball club.
Contest winner Jerry Tomko wrote that the Cavaliers "represent a group of daring, fearless men, whose life's pact was never surrender, no matter what the odds."
The nickname is frequently shortened to Cavs.

The Ted Stepian Rule:
The Ted Stepien rule is named after former Cavs owner Ted Stepien. The rule disallows the trading of consecutive first round draft picks. Stepien traded so many first rounders in bad deals that the NBA actually gave the Cavs a compensatory pick in the 1980s. Stepian is usually considered one of, if not the worst owner in NBA history.

Cleveland Basketball Past:
The Cavaliers are the fifth major professional basketball team to call the city of Cleveland their home. There were three teams in the NBA fore-runner, the National Basketball League. The first was the Cleveland White Horse, which moved from Warren, Pennsylvania during the 1938-39 season but last only half a season. Than came the Cleveland Chase Brassmen which played only the 42-43 season. The last NBL team, the Cleveland Allman Transfers managed to last two whole seasons before disbanding.

The fourth team came from the Basketball Association of America, another NBA fore-runner and they had the most success of any of the pre-Cavalier Cleveland franchises. The Cleveland Rebels only lasted one season in the BAA, but they did make the playoffs and had a winning record.

The BAA and NBL would merge in 1949, but the NBA does not consider the NBL's history to be its own history so the only former NBA team that the league recognized for the city of Cleveland is the Rebels.

Bubble Gum Bubble Gum Pick My Team:
In one of the craziest stories in NBA history, when the Cavs were planning for their expansion draft, Cavaliers coach Bill Fitch gave assistant coach Jim Lessig $20 to buy bubble-gum trading cards. They studied the player bios on the back to help them in their assessments.

"We laid them all out on Bill's living room floor," Lessig told the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The Cavs lost their first 15 games before they got their first win and promptly followed that up with a 12 game losing streak. The Cavs started their first season 1-27 and ended up winning just 15 games that year.

The Comeback:
The Cavs fell behind to the Indiana Pacers in game 3 of the 2017 NBA playoffs by 26 points. They trailed 74-49 at the half and looked done. Than Lebron James and company sparked the greatest comeback in Cavaliers history. The Cavs would go on to win the game 119-114.

The 26 point comeback is tied for 3rd greatest comeback in NBA playoffs history and 14th largest comeback in NBA history.

71 Point Night:
On January 2, 2023, Donovan Mitchell had one of the greatest games in NBA history, but sadly most the country did not get to see the game.

Mitchell scored a Career and Cavs high 71 points in a 145-134 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls. It was Mitchell's 3rd career 50 point game, but the first in the regular season. Mitchell went 22 for 34 from the filed and had 11 assists and 8 rebounds.

Much of the country did not get to see the game as the game took place the same time as the Utah Utes and Penn State Nitny Lions faced off in the Rose Bowl, and Monday Night Football between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals took precedence over the game. The MNF game was the game where Demar Hamlin's heart stopped and that story was the biggest sports story of the young sports year.

Playoff Mitchell:
Donovan Mitchell earned a reputation for having crazy playoff performances. In 2020 while a member of the Utah Jazz, Mitchell had 2 50+ point games vs the Denver Nuggets in the playoffs, including a 57 point night which is the third most in playoff history. So it was no surprise when the Cavaliers needed an epic performance from Mitchell he delivered.

In Game 6 of the 2024 playoffs Mitchell had his third 50 point playoff game vs the Orlando Magic. The Cavaliers were struggling to find any offensive and Mitchell tried his best but the Cavs came up short. But the game gave the Cavaliers enough confidence to close the series out in 7 games just a few nights later.

Cleveland's missery

The long wait for the city of Cleveland is over, after half a century the city will celebrate its first championship. The Cavs, The Browns, and the Indians have broken the hearts of many Ohioans. But now after half a century of missery-bliss.

The last championship the city of Cleveland won was the in 1964 when the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship, since then it has been a very hard time in C-town. The Cavs have been the victims of many of Cleveland mishaps. The Cavs began as an NBA franchise in 1970 and immediately began experience the curse of Cleveland.

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Lebron James makes history by making 6th NBA finals in a row

For all their accolades in NBA history and the NBA finals in particular; Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant nor Magic Johnson never accomplished a feat that Lebron James has recently just accomplished. This finals vs the Golden State Warriors marks James sixth straight NBA finals. A feat that is incredible rare in sports, and yet despite this success, James success at getting his team to the finals is often disregarded when talking about his greatness.

The first of these six straight finals appearances came in his first year of the Miami Heat's big three of James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. The Heat were the favorites to win the title that year and cruised through the later half of the season and were the odds on favorite to win the NBA title. But in a shocking turn of events the Dirk Nowitzki lead Dallas Mavericks stunned the Heat to capture Dallas's first NBA title.

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Ted Stepien; the worst owner in NBA history.

The term worst owner in sports is often thrown around at any owner who meddles in his teams business while the team is struggling. Sometimes the term is rightfully deserved such as with Clippers former owner Donald Sterling, other times it is not. But one owner seems to stand out above all others in terms of being the worst owner of a professional team and that is Ted Stepien. In just three seasons of owning the Cleveland Cavaliers, Stepien ruined the franchise for most of the 1980s and his decisions lead the NBA to make a rule change to trading draft picks.

Stepien seemed to embody all that is wrong with an owner. He made poor business decisions, he fired popular commentators and team personal, threatened to move the team, and made several racist comments about blacks in the NBA.

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The Teams: The Cavaliers.

Success has always been a finger tip away from this team, from last second heroics by Michael Jordan, to being swept by the Spurs in the finals and all the horrid seasons in between; NBA life has been very tough for the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans.

The Cavaliers, or Cavs for short, joined the NBA along with the Buffalo Braves, and Portland Trailblazers just before the 1970-71 season.

The first season of Cavs basketball was a dismal one, as they finished with a league worst 15 and 67-record. They would select first in the 1971 draft and select Norte Dames Austin Carr. However, Austin Carr injured his leg and would never recover. Carr who was one of college basketballs greatest players would come no where near that in the NBA, and with his injury the future hopes of the Cavs franchise looked in doubt. The Cavs would get some brighter news their third season as they would finish with a 32 and 50 record and players such as Bingo Smith looked like they could leave the franchise.

In their 5th season the Cavs would finally make the playoffs going 49 and 33, coach Bill Fitch would also be named NBA coach of the year. During the 76 playoffs the Cavs won their first series, a best of seven, vs. Washington, but would lose to the eventual Champion Boston Celtics. The Cavs would have identical 43-39 records during the 76-77, and 77-78 season, make the playoffs both years, but be bounced in the first.

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LeBron James has lead the Cavs to the NBA finals 3 times, twice they have faced off against the Warriors and Steph Curry.

Donovan Mitchell
Donovan Mitchell is a 2 time all-star for the Cavs and set the franchise record for most point scored in a game with 71.

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