The Cavaliers began play in 1970 as an expansion team. Their 46-year history has been marked by both stretches of strong play and periods of poor play. In the 1970s, under the ownership of Nick Mileti, the team won its 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. They won Game 7, 87–85, on a shot by Snyder with four seconds to go. Injuries, particularly an ankle injury to Chones, led to this team's demise, as the Cavaliers would lose the Eastern Conference Finals to the Boston Celtics, 4–2. It is widely believed among both Cavaliers fans and players that the "Miracle" team would have won the 1976 NBA Championship had Chones stayed healthy. The remainder of the 1970s were marked by early playoff losses and eventually Fitch's resignation.
The early 1980s were marked by Ted Stepien's ownership. Stepien also 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 his 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, known as the "Ted Stepien Rule", prohibiting teams from trading away first-round draft picks in consecutive years. The ensuing chaos had a major effect on both the Cavaliers' on-court performance and lack of local support, losing over 50 games in three straight years. The 1981–82 and 1982–83 combined to lose 24 straight games, which at the time was the NBA's all-time longest losing streak.
George and Gordon Gund purchased the Cavaliers from Stepien in 1983. The team was in a transition as they went through nine head coaches from 1980 to 1986 and only made the playoffs once in that period. During the 1986 offseason, the Cavaliers acquired Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Ron Harper and Larry Nance. Those four players (until Harper was later traded in 1989 for the rights to Danny Ferry) formed the core of the team, under the direction of head coach Lenny Wilkens, that led the Cavaliers to eight playoff seasons in the next nine years, including three seasons of 50 or more wins. Their strongest team was the 1988–89 team, who went 57–25 en route to the 3rd seed in the East, but these Cavs lost the first round to the Chicago Bulls 3–2, thanks to a game-winning jump shot by Chicago's Michael Jordan over Craig Ehlo.
The Cavaliers entered into a period of decline from the mid-1990s through the early 2000s. The team appeared in the playoffs the next two years, but could not get past the first round. In the 1997 off-season, the team added Shawn Kemp and Wesley Person, as well as a rookie class that included Derek Anderson, Cedric Henderson, Žydrūnas Ilgauskas, and Brevin Knight. This team lost in the first round of the playoffs in 1998, but the Cavaliers would not return to the playoffs until 2006. In the early 2000s, the team added Andre Miller, Lamond Murray, Chris Mihm and Carlos Boozer, but could not make it to the playoffs. 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. With it, the team selected heralded forward and future NBA MVP LeBron James, an Akron native 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 a new general manager, former Cavaliers forward Danny Ferry. Over the next few years, 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 it to 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 in six games to the Orlando Magic. For the 2009–10 season, the Cavs added four-time NBA Champion and 15-time All Star center Shaquille O'Neal and forward Antawn Jamison, but were not able to get out of the Eastern conference playoffs, losing in the second round to the Boston Celtics in six games.
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. The 2010–11 season saw the Cavaliers rebuild after James' departure. The biggest trade they made shipped Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers for Baron Davis and a 1st-round draft pick. On the court, the Cavaliers finished 19–63, the second-worst record in the NBA. This 42-win difference from the prior season is the biggest single-season drop in NBA history. This season also saw the Cavaliers lose 26 straight games, tying a record for the longest losing streak in major American sports history. The draft pick from the Clippers ended up becoming the 1st overall selection, which the Cavaliers used to select Duke point guard Kyrie Irving. The Cavaliers also selected Texas center Tristan Thompson with the 4th overall selection. The Cavaliers built through the draft the next few years.
In the 2014 off-season, James, now a free agent, announced he was rejoining the Cavaliers. 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. This trio would lead the Cavaliers to back-to-back finals appearances in 2015 and 2016, both against the Golden State Warriors. The Cavaliers would lose the 2015 Finals in six games, but win the 2016 Finals − their first title in franchise history – in seven games, becoming 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.
When the Cleveland Cavaliers debuted in the NBA in 1970, the team's original jerseys 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.
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.
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 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 is a gold sword piercing to the words 'Cleveland Cavaliers' in white and navy trim, with a wine basketball surrounding it.
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.
Beginning in the 2008–09 season, the Cavaliers began wearing 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; 2015–present: the team wore their 1987–89 uniforms, but in the classic wine and gold from the 'Miracle of Richfield' era. This uniform was brought back for the 2015–16 season (with current number scheme in place of the 1987–89 number font), and became a third alternate uniform (fifth uniform overall) still currently used
2010–11: the team wore the 2005–10 checkerboard alternate uniforms, but in the 1994–2003 color scheme of blue, black and orange.
2015–present: the team introduced a sixth uniform design - a black sleeved uniform that is used on select nights, featuring the wine 'C' logo in front. These were the uniforms worn the night the Cavs won their first NBA Championship in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals.
2016–present: The Cavs are wearing their mid-1980s orange uniforms for select "Hardwood Classic Nights".
Cleveland Arena (1970–1974)
Coliseum at Richfield (1974–1994)
Quicken Loans Arena (formerly Gund Arena) (1994–present)
Cleveland Clinic Courts, the team's practice facility and team headquarters, is located in suburban Independence, Ohio. 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 Quicken Loans Arena.
In November 2016, 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".
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.Notes:
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 Never played for the Cavaliers. Inducted as contributor for being the first African American to manage a team in NBA.
Joe Tait – 2010 (team announcer 1970–1981; 1983–2011)
Bold denotes still active with team. Italic denotes still active but not with team.
Points scored (regular season – as of the end of the 2015–16 season)
Other statistics (regular season – as of the end of the 2015–16 season)
WTAM (1100 AM) and WMMS (100.7 FM) currently serve as the flagship stations for the Cavaliers Radio Network. John Michael (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. Either Chones (home games) or former Ohio State standout and NBA player Brad Sellers (road games) will join Snyder for the postgame show.
WLFM-LP (87.7 FM) serves as the Spanish-language radio home of the Cavaliers, with the 2014–15 season marking the first time the Cavaliers have been broadcast in a second language. Rafael Hernández Brito serves as the Spanish language play-by-play announcer, as well as hosting pregame and postgame shows.
The Cavaliers air on Fox Sports Ohio, with select games simulcast on WUAB (TV channel 43). The broadcast team includes play-by-play announcer Fred McLeod; analyst Austin Carr, a former Cavalier; and sideline reporter Allie Clifton. Jeff Phelps and former Cavalier Campy Russell host the pregame, halftime, and postgame shows.
Whammer was a polar bear mascot who was said to have grown up in the tundra. At halftime he used to dunk a basketball. Whammer's debut was in a November 9, 1995 game against the Chicago Bulls. He still makes occasional appearances throughout the season at Cavaliers games. Recently when Moondog, the current Cavaliers mascot, was asked what Whammer was up to these days he responded "He e-mails the braintrust of the Cavaliers about twice a week trying to get his old job back. I throw him a bone occasionally and invite him back, mostly to mock him. Finally he's good for a laugh."
Moondog is the official mascot of the Cavaliers. Like a growing number of NBA mascots, 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 famed 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. Like Alan Freed, the mascot aims to be innovative, fun-loving, passionate and controversial.
Moondog was an NBA All-Star selection in 2003 and 2004. He is best known for his behind the back half-court shot and fierce loyalty to his Cavaliers. His first appearance was on November 5, 2003.
On November 27, 2010 during the Cavaliers-Memphis Grizzlies game, a new mascot debuted named Sir C.C., who is a swashbuckler character (a la The Three Musketeers) and teams up with Moondog to provide gametime entertainment at home games.