The History Of The Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers became a franchise in 1970 and slowly worked their way up to one of the elite organizations in the NBA. Here's their history.

The Cleveland Cavaliers began their first NBA season in 1970 under the direction of Bill Fitch. Like many expansion teams, they struggled in the early years, but slowly progressed. After a 15-67 first season, they continued to build their team around first-round draft pick Austin Carr, a star at Notre Dame. They added players like Bingo Smith, Dick Snyder, Campy Russell, Foots Walker, Nate Thurmond, and Jim Chones. And in the 1975 - 1976 season, their patience paid off.

Bill Fitch won the league's Coach of the Year Award as the team finished with a 49-33 record and a first-place finish in the Central Division. In their first playoff appearance, the Cavs won a thrilling 7-game series against Elvin Hayes and the Washington Bullets. It was a series which became known as the "Miracle of Richfield" because of the many heroics and last second wins in the series. However, just as they prepared for the Eastern Conference Finals against Boston, Jim Chones broke his foot in practice. And with his broken foot went the Cavs broken dreams as they lost the series to Boston, 4-2.

After playoff appearances in each of the following two seasons, the Cavs struggled through much of the early 80s. New owner, Ted Stepian, hired and fired over a half-dozen coaches, and came within days of moving the team to Toronto to become the Toronto Towers. However, George and Gordon Gund, owners of the NHL's Minnesota North Stars, stepped in and bought the team in the mid-80s, keeping them in Cleveland.

The team began to rebuild with the 1986, drafting or trading for Brad Daugherty, Ron Harper, Mark Price, and Larry Nance. In eight of the next nine seasons the Cavs made the playoffs, winning more than 50 games in three of those seasons. They were 57-25 in the 1991-92 year which included a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in against Chicago. The Bulls prevailed in the series, 4-2.

After playing 20 years at the Coliseum in Richfield, the Cavs moved to Gund Arena in downtown Cleveland, their current home. In the rafters hang the retired numbers of Cav greats Bingo Smith, Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty, Austin Carr, Nate Thurmond, and Mark Price.

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