CLEVELAND CAVALIERS FRANCHISE HISTORY
Previous Franchise Names: None
Majority Owner: Dan Gilbert
General Manager: David Griffin
Head Coach: Tyronn Lue
Best Season: 2008-09 (66-16, .805)
Playoff Appearances: 19
NBA Championships: 0
The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of three expansion teams to join the NBA in 1970, along with the Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers) and the Portland Trail Blazers.
Success has been elusive for the Cavaliers, who in 46 seasons have reached the NBA Finals just twice (2007 and 2015) and are still seeking a first championship.
It was a slow build to respectability under Bill Fitch as the expansion Cavaliers won just 15 games, followed by totals of 23, 32, 29 and 40 wins before breaking through with their first playoff berth in 1975-76.
That season was marked by one of the iconic moments in franchise history, the so-called “Miracle of Richfield,” a seven-game series victory over the powerhouse Washington Bullets in the Eastern Conference semifinals. The series was marked by three games decided at the final buzzer, including Cleveland’s Game 7 win at Richfield Coliseum when Dick Snyder hit a runner off the glass to put the Cavaliers up 87-85 in the closing seconds.
The Cavaliers’ fortunes were mostly down in the 1980s, when they spent several years recovering from the dreadful ownership tenure of Ted Stepien, who traded away most of the team’s future draft picks for middling players.
The arrival of LeBron James in the 2003 NBA Draft ushered in a new era for the Cavaliers, who reached the playoffs for the first time with James in 2006 and played in the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history a season later, falling in a four-game sweep to the San Antonio Spurs.
After upset exits in the postseason in 2009 and 2010, James left the Cavaliers to sign as a free agent with the Miami Heat and Cleveland fell on hard times once again, winning just 97 games in the four seasons James was in Miami.
James returned to Cleveland in 2014 and immediately led the Cavaliers back to the Finals, losing in six games to the Golden State Warriors.
Lenny Wilkens, who played for the Cavs in the early 1970s, returned to coach the club in 1986 and posted was 316-258 in seven seasons, leaving after the 1992-93 campaign. His Cleveland clubs were just 18-23 in the playoffs, however.
Cleveland Cavaliers Career Leaders (as of 3/9/2016)
- Games, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 771
- Points, LeBron James, 18487
- Rebounds, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 5904
- Assists, LeBron James, 4717
- Steals, LeBron James, 1151
- Blocks, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, 1269
Cleveland Cavaliers Retired Numbers
- 7, Bingo Smith
- 11, Zydrunas Ilgauskas
- 22, Larry Nance
- 25, Mark Price
- 34, Austin Carr
- 42, Nate Thurmond
- 43, Brad Daugherty
Cleveland Cavaliers Official Links
Cleveland Cavaliers Beat Writers
Chris Haynes, Cleveland.com, @ChrisBHaynes
Joe Vardon, NE Ohio Media Group, @joevardon
Jason Lloyd, Akron Beacon Journal, @JasonLloydABJ
Tom Withers, Associated Press, @twithersAP
Dave McMenamin, ESPN.com, @mcten
Related Cleveland Cavaliers Blogs and Links
Cleveland Cavaliers Logo History, courtesy of Chris Creamer’s Sportslogos.net
Salary Page: Cleveland Cavaliers Salaries at Spotrac
FanSided Cleveland Cavaliers: King James Gospel
SB Nation Cleveland Cavaliers: Fear The Sword
ESPN TrueHoop Cleveland Cavaliers: Cavs The Blog
HoopsHabit Cleveland Cavaliers Archive: Cleveland Cavaliers
Bleacher Report Cleveland Cavaliers Team Stream: Cleveland Cavaliers
RealGM Cleveland Cavaliers Page: Cleveland Cavaliers
Stats and retired number information courtesy of Basketball-Reference.com and NBA.com