The Cleveland Cavaliers, often referred to as the Cavs, are an American professional basketball team based in Cleveland. The Cavaliers 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 Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in downtown Cleveland, which is shared with 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.
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. They made playoff appearances in the following two seasons before going on a six-year playoff hiatus.
The early 1980s were marked by owner Ted Stepien 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 "Stepien Rule", which prohibits teams from trading first-round draft picks in successive seasons. 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. The Cavs went through six coaches during that span, including four during the 1981–82 season. The team finished 15–67, and between March and November 1982, the team had a 24-game losing streak, which at the time, was the NBA's longest losing streak. George and Gordon Gund purchased the Cavaliers from Stepien in 1983.
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 that year. 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.
The Cavaliers' luck changed as they landed the number 1 pick in the 2003 NBA draft. The team selected heralded forward and future NBA MVP LeBron James, a native of nearby Akron 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 general manager Danny Ferry. 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 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 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 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. 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 around Kyrie Irving, who they selected first overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
In 2014, James returned 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 missed the playoffs each season. 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. The Lebron-led Cavaliers made four consecutive finals appearances in from 2015 to 2018, all against the Golden State Warriors, winning in 2016. 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.
The Cavaliers' roster went through many changes in the 2017–18 season, most notably the trade of Irving to the Boston Celtics in exchange for Isaiah Thomas and other assets. Thomas was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers as part of a trade deadline overhaul that saw the Cavaliers add several young players. The following offseason, James declined his player option to rejoin the team, instead signing with the Lakers. In the following two seasons, the team recorded only 19 wins and failed to make the playoffs.
List of the last five seasons completed by the Cavaliers. For the full season-by-season history, see List of Cleveland Cavaliers seasons.
Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, % = Winning Percentage;
Logos and uniforms
When the Cleveland Cavaliers debuted in the NBA in 1970, the team's original jersey colors were wine and gold. The first jerseys featured the feathered treatment of the letter C in Cavaliers. In 1974, they changed into the classic block lettering and checkerboard pattern that was synonymous to the 'Miracle of Richfield' teams of 1976. In 1980, the gold shade was changed from yellowish to metallic, and the uniforms removed the checkerboard pattern and placed the stripes above Cleveland and below the uniform number, the only time the city name was featured in both home and away jerseys.
The original logo was that of swashbuckling cavalier looking right with a sword pointing, surrounded by the team name and a basketball. A modernized swashbuckling cavalier logo was later used by the Cavaliers' NBA Development League affiliates, the Canton Charge. The gold checkerboard uniforms were used as throwbacks in the 2004–05 season to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 'Miracle of Richfield' team, while the gold 'Feathered C' uniforms were used again in the 2008–09 season, as a buildup to the then-upcoming 40th season of the Cavaliers. The 'Miracle of Richfield' gold uniforms were used again in the 2015–16 season on special "Hardwood Classic" nights to commemorate the Miracle of Richfield teams's 40th anniversary celebration.
Blue and orange
In the 1983–84 season, the colors were changed to burnt orange, blue and white. The first Cavaliers uniform under the new scheme featured the Cavaliers logo (with a V in the shape of a hoop and circle above as basketball) in an arched pattern and the player name sewn onto the back shoulder as a patch, with orange being the primary color in both the away and home uniforms. However, in the 1987–88 season, orange was relegated as a secondary color, and blue was used instead as the primary for the away and home uniforms; minor changes in the 1989–90 season include the city name on the blue away uniforms. The drop shadows were also removed. The orange version of the uniform was used again in the 2006–07 and 2016–17 seasons, as part of the respective 20th and 30th anniversaries of the 1986–87 team. The blue versions were worn in the 2009–10 season as part of the franchise's 40th anniversary and as a tribute to the 1988–89 team.
Blue, black and orange
Coinciding with the move to Gund Arena in the 1994–95 season, the Cavaliers changed logos and uniforms, adding black in addition to the already existing blue, orange and white colors. The uniforms feature a blue splash in the abdomen area in front. From 1994 to 1997 the word 'CAVS' on the home uniforms was orange with black line, while the numbers are in black with white line, while 'CLEVELAND' on the road uniforms was also orange with black lines, while the numbers are in white with a black line. From 1997 to 1999 the numbers and lettering were slightly tweaked. The word 'CAVS' and the numbers on the home uniforms are in black with orange lines, while the word 'CLEVELAND' and the numbers on the road uniforms are in white with orange lines. In the latter iteration, the blue splash was moved from the right leg to the left leg, surrounding 'CLEVELAND' on the home uniforms and 'CAVS' on the road uniforms, with a minor change in striping.
In the 1999–2000 season, the Cavaliers opted to go for a cleaner look, eliminating the splash and adding an orange and blue line that runs through the shorts. The home jerseys feature the team nickname and the uniform numbers are in blue with black lines, while on the away jerseys, they feature the city name and the uniform numbers in white with blue lines. They were used until the 2002–03 season. The logo used in this period was of a basketball on its way down the net, surrounded by a black square and the word 'CAVS' in blue with black line below.
The 1994–96 black uniforms will be revived for the 2019–20 season as part of the Cavaliers' 50th season as well as the 25th anniversary of the move to Gund Arena (now Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse).
The "new" wine and gold
The Cavaliers switched to a modified version of the team's classic wine and gold scheme in the 2003–04 season (metallic gold and crimson shade of wine), with navy blue added to the color scheme. The home uniform was white, with the word "Cavaliers" in wine lettering with gold trim on the front, the player's name in wine lettering with gold trim on the back, the player's numbers in navy blue, and wine and gold trim on the sides. The team's standard road uniform was wine-colored, with the word "Cleveland", the player's name, and the player's numbers all in white lettering with gold trim, as well as white and gold trim on the sides. The team's third/alternate uniform was navy blue with the word "Cleveland", the player's name, and the player's numbers all in white lettering with gold trim, as well as a wine, gold, and navy blue checkerboard trim. The checkerboard trim was a tribute to the original Cavaliers uniforms from the 1970s. The logo used was a gold sword piercing to the words 'Cleveland Cavaliers' in white and navy trim, with a wine basketball surrounding it.
The return to original wine and gold
The Cavaliers debuted new uniforms before the start of the 2010–11 NBA season, to coincide with the team returning to the original shades of wine and gold used from 1970 to 1983. The home uniform is white with a wine and gold horizontal stripe trim on the collar, sleeves, waistband, and pant legs, "Cavaliers" (in block style lettering) in wine on the front of the jersey, with wine lettering for the name and number, and white shoes and socks. The road uniform is wine colored with the same stripe trim, "Cleveland" in gold on the front of the jersey, and gold lettering on the name and number, with black shoes and socks. An alternate third uniform was added for the 2012–13 season, which is gold with "CAVS" in wine on the front of the jersey, wine lettering on the name and number, white socks and shoes, and the same stripe trim as the other uniforms. All uniforms have the team motto "All For One, One for All" stitched on the inside of the collar, and the secondary "Sword C" logo on the side of the pant legs. The logo used is the same piercing sword logo, updated to the classic wine and gold scheme.
For the 2014–15 season, a second alternate uniform (and fourth uniform overall) was added, which is navy blue (a callback to the 1987–94 style) with "CAVS" and the player's number in wine with gold trim, the player's name on the back of the jersey in gold, and the "Sword C" logo on the side of the pant legs. Two alternate jerseys were unveiled prior to the start of the 2015–16 season. The second wine uniform is similar to their regular road threads, except that it features the arched mid-1980s Cavs logo and white numerals in gold trim. A black sleeved uniform features the wine 'C' logo in front, and was famously worn in the title-clinching Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. Their new logos for the 2017–18 season newly include the color black to commemorate the victory.
From the 2008–09 to the 2011–12 seasons, the Cavaliers wore special "mash-up" uniforms (combining the style from one era with the color scheme of another) on select "Cavs Fanatic" Nights.
- 2008–09: the team wore the original "Feathered C" uniforms but with the 1994–2003 shade of blue combined with the classic wine and gold shade.
- 2009–10: the team wore their 1987–89 uniforms, but in the classic wine and gold from the 'Miracle of Richfield' era.
- 2010–11: the team wore the 2005–10 checkerboard alternate uniforms, but in the 1994–2003 color scheme of blue, black and orange.
- 2011–12: the team wore navy uniforms with wine and gold lettering; these were similar to the 2014–17 navy alternates but with a different jersey and shorts striping.
Beginning in the 2017–18 season, all NBA teams switched to Nike-designed white "Association" uniforms and "Icon" uniforms in the respective team's primary color. For the Cavs, their Icon uniforms are wine colored with "Cleveland" across the front and the player's name in gold lettering with black numerals both in the front and in the back. The white Association uniforms have "Cavs" across the front, with wine color letters and numbers both front and back. All teams have the choice of which uniform to wear for any home game. Also included is a small Goodyear wingfoot logo on the Cavs uniforms, as part of a sponsorship deal with the team.
Nike also provides a third, alternate uniform called the "Statement" uniform. The Cavaliers' Statement uniform is black with dark gray pinstripes, a wine colored "C" trimmed in gold on the front, names in gold letters on the back, wine colored/gold trimmed numbers on the front and back, and gold colored Nike and Goodyear logos on the front. The black uniform is a nod to the team's former black sleeved jerseys that they wore when they won Game 7 in the 2016 Finals.
Nike also provides a fourth uniform known as the "City Edition" which honors the city of Cleveland as well as the state of Ohio:
- In 2017–18, the uniform was grey with dark grey trim, "The Land" (a popular Cleveland nickname) across the front of the uniform in white letters trimmed in dark grey and gold (as is the number on the front of the jersey), with the player's name and number in white lettering on the back.
- For 2018–19, the "City Edition" uniforms were orange and blue (a nod to the popular Cavs teams of the 1980s), in a zigzag/slash pattern (reminiscent of the 90s era uniforms) with white letters and numbers, featuring a script "Cleveland" across the front. On the right pant leg an outline of the Great Lakes (with Lake Erie highlighted) is featured with the slogan "1 out of 5 Greats". For the home games that these uniforms were worn, the floor at Quicken Loans Arena was modified with an orange and blue design as well. The same uniform design of the "City Edition" uniform was used for the team's "Earned Edition" uniform (exclusive to the 2018 NBA playoff teams), except the top part was white while the bottom was powder blue and featured navy letters and numbers.
- For the 2019–20 season, the "City Edition" uniforms were navy blue (a nod to the team's mid-late 2000s alternate uniform) with "CLE" in gold letters (in the style of the team's original 1970 uniforms), with numbers in gold with wine inlay (in the style of the 90s uniforms), and wine, gold, white, and black stripes down the sides. Additionally, to commemorate the team's 50th anniversary season, Nike provided a fifth uniform known as the "Classic Edition", which was a modified version of the team's mid-1990s era black, blue, and orange uniforms.
- For the 2020–21 season, the "City Edition" uniforms will be black with wine and gold trim around the neck and sleeves with white letters and numbers. "Cleveland" will be featured on the front of the jersey with each letter in different fonts, and various patches down the sides of the pant legs. The jersey design is in honor of a partnership between the Cavs and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, who are collaborating on a "Cleveland Amplified" exhibit at the Rock Hall. The letters represent: "C" (Cleveland Cavaliers), "L" (Sex Pistols), "E" (The Who), "V" (David Bowie), "E" (Metallica), "L" (The Beatles), "A" (Nirvana), "N" (N.W.A), "D" (Pink Floyd).
Cleveland Clinic Courts
Cleveland Clinic Courts, the team's practice facility and team headquarters, is located in suburban Independence. The 50,000-square-foot (4,600 m2) building opened in 2007 and includes two full-size basketball courts, weight room, team room, offices, medical facilities, and kitchen and dining facilities. Naming rights are held by the Cleveland Clinic, which is the team's official healthcare partner. Prior to the opening of Cleveland Clinic Courts, the team used the practice court located on the club level of Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. In honor of the Cavs winning the NBA Championship, the city of Independence renamed the section of Brecksville Road leading to the team's practice facility "Cavaliers Way" in November 2016.
Cleveland Cavaliers roster
Retained draft rights
The Cavaliers hold the draft rights to the following unsigned draft picks who have been playing outside the NBA. A drafted player, either an international draftee or a college draftee who is not signed by the team that drafted him, is allowed to sign with any non-NBA teams. In this case, the team retains the player's draft rights in the NBA until one year after the player's contract with the non-NBA team ends. This list includes draft rights that were acquired from trades with other teams.
The following is a list of past Cavaliers players and other personnel who have been honored as "Cavs Legends" either by retiring their number or having commemorative banners placed in the rafters at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
- 1 A special arrangement was made in 2018, which allowed Larry Nance Jr. to wear #22 in honor of his father.
Wall of Honor
In 2019, the Cavaliers introduced the Wall of Honor, which honors former players and other personnel, and is located in the newly added North Atrium of the renovated Rocket Mortage FieldHouse.
The inaugural class of Wall of Honor inductees includes all personnel (players, coaches, executives, etc.) who have had their number retired or were honored with similar banners in the rafters, as well as the following:
- Original owner Nick Mileti
- Original general manager/head coach Bill Fitch
- Former general manager Wayne Embry
- Former forward John Johnson
- Former forward/center John "Hot Rod" Williams
Hall of Famers
The following is a list of players and other personnel who have spent at least part of their careers with the Cavaliers that have been inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
- 1 In total, Wilkens was inducted into the Hall of Fame three times – as player, as coach and as a member of the 1992 Olympic team.
- 2 In total, Daly was inducted into the Hall of Fame twice – as a coach, and as a member of the 1992 Olympic team.
- 3 Inducted as contributor for being the first African American to manage a team in the NBA.
Curt Gowdy Award winners
- Joe Tait – 2010 (team announcer 1970–1981; 1983–2011)
FIBA Hall of Famers
Individual records and accomplishments
Bold denotes still active with team. Italic denotes still active but not with team.
Points scored (regular season – as of the end of the 2017–18 season)
- LeBron James (23,119)
- Zydrunas Ilgauskas (10,616)
- Brad Daugherty (10,389)
- Austin Carr (10,265)
- Mark Price (9,543)
- Bingo Smith (9,513)
- Hot Rod Williams (8,504)
- Kyrie Irving (8,232)
- Larry Nance (7,257)
- Campy Russell (6,588)
- World B. Free (6,329)
- Terrell Brandon (5,793)
- Jim Chones (5,729)
- Danny Ferry (5,643)
- Mike Mitchell (5,217)
- Craig Ehlo (5,103)
- Phil Hubbard (4,962)
- Anderson Varejão (4,485)
- Ron Harper (4,433)
- Tristan Thompson (4,378)
Other statistics (regular season) (as of July 20, 2018)
NBA All-Star Weekend
Two Ball Contest
WTAM (1100 AM) and WMMS (100.7 FM) currently serve as the flagship stations for the Cleveland Cavaliers Radio Network. Tim Alcorn (play by play) and former Cavaliers star Jim Chones (analyst) are the radio team, with WTAM morning co-host/sports director Mike Snyder hosting the pregame/halftime/postgame shows. Former Ohio State standout and NBA player Brad Sellers joins Snyder for the postgame show.
The Cavaliers air on Fox Sports Ohio, with select games simulcast on WUAB (TV channel 43). The broadcast team includes play by play announcer John Michael, former Cavalier Austin Carr as analyst, and sideline reporter Angel Gray. Jeff Phelps and former Cavalier Campy Russell host the pregame, halftime, and postgame shows.
The Cavaliers have two official mascots, Moondog and Sir C.C. The character has a unique connection not just to the team, but to the city and surrounding area. Cleveland is known worldwide as the rock and roll city, due to Cleveland radio disc jockey Alan Freed, who popularized the phrase "rock and roll", breaking new ground and sparking a music explosion. Freed called himself the "Moondog", and his listeners were "Moondoggers". When the Cavaliers looked to create a new mascot which represents the city, Moondog was a natural selection. Moondog was an NBA All-Star selection in 2003 and 2004. His first appearance was on November 5, 2003.
Sir C.C., a swashbuckler character, debuted during a game on November 27, 2010.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, the Cavs had a polar bear mascot named Whammer, who was introduced November 9, 1995. He still makes occasional appearances throughout the season at Cavaliers games.