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In 1970, a brand new basket ball team from Cleveland Ohio team joined the NBA. Nearly five decades later, the team has come into its own to become a fixture in American basketball. This team is the Cleveland Cavaliers, and its performance has only improved with time.
Like any venture, the Cavaliers have experienced growing pains and setbacks on and off the court, but the Cavaliers are nothing if not survivors. They have made it to the NBA playoffs 19 times. They have won four Central Division championships (in 2015,2010,2009 and 1976) and two Eastern conference championships (2015 and 2007), all amid a colorful history.
The first years of the Cavaliers
The nascent team lead by coach Bill Fitch, performed poorly in its inaugural year, but improved in subsequent years as new talent was added to the team. The Cavaliers' most memorable acquisition between 1970 and 1980 was that of Austin Carr. In the 1975-1976 season, the team, still led by Bill Fitch, won the division title and almost made it to the NBA playoffs. For the rest of the decade, the team did exceptionally well at the division level but exited the NBA playoffs at the early stages. Bill Fitch, the head coach, who had been with the team since its first season, resigned at the end of the decade.
Stepien wrecks the team
Like all residents of tornado alley, the Cavaliers was soon to experience some weather. In 1980, an advertising magnate named Ted Stepien gained a controlling stake in the team. He went ahead to take over the decision making process. For the next three years, many coaches came and many coaches left. Bad decisions were made when signing and trading talent, and the team was decimated. Those three years ended in the team playing home games in a mostly empty stadium as the team lost Cleveland's support. As a result, the team gained notoriety that led to the creation of the Ted Stepien rule to prevent irresponsible trading of first round picks. It was the stuff of reality TV.
Life after Stepien: the Cavaliers and the Bulls make NBA history
Poor talent management broke the Cavaliers between 1980 and 1983. Proper talent management built the team back up between 1986 and 1992. A super team made up of coach Lenny Wilkens, Larry Nance, Brad Daugherty and Mark Price and later Craig Ehlo helped the team become one of the best teams in the NBA.
In 1989, the stable and consistent Cleveland Cavaliers were paired with the erratic Chicago Bulls, who were the underdogs of the division. During game 4 of the first rounds of the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Bulls in overtime with a score of 108-180 leaving each team with two points in the series.
Game 5 became deciding game, and its venue was the Coliseum at Richfield. The teams were evenly matched up until the end, when Michael Jordan made a jump shot with six seconds left in the game to put the Bulls in the lead with a score of 99-98. With three seconds left, Craig Ehlo scored on a drive putting the Cavaliers in the lead with a score of 100-99. The Bulls asked for a time-out with three seconds left in the game.
Nance and Ehlo double teamed Jordan, with Nance in front of Jordan and Ehlo behind him, to prevent him from receiving the ball.
Jordan managed to get around them to catch his teammate's inbound pass and made it to center court where he made the winning shot.
The game and the Bulls' victory became one of the most iconic games in basketball history. It launched the Chicago Bulls into the NBA stratosphere and Michael Jordan into superstardom.
LeBron James, the Cavaliers and Miami Heat
The Cleveland Cavaliers were the first NBA team that LeBron James played for.
He helped the team reach the playoffs in the 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons. During his time at the Cavaliers, the player's star rose, and he became the NBA's MVP for 2009 and 2010.
He went on to break the heart of Cleveland and Ohio when he left the Cavaliers for Miami Heat. The Cavaliers have always been entertaining off the court, the outpouring of anger and grief by the team and its fans got as much media attention as LeBron's decision. The team's performance in subsequent seasons declined drastically.
LeBron James Comes back, dislikes teams new look
In 2014, LeBron opted out of his contract with Miami heat to become a free agent and went back home to the Cavaliers. He's helped the team to improve, albeit with some challenges of his own, like his play. And the sleeves on his jersey.
The Cavaliers have always liked to change it up every couple of years, so the players will have to get used their new uniforms, they managed to win against the Niks on 5th November 2015 despite their inconsistent play.
Never a dull moment with the Cleveland Cavaliers
Through the good times and the bad, the Cavaliers always keep us watching and entertained.
They are a powerful team that has its moments of glory and really bad seasons. Their off-court doings sometimes manage to get TV ratings that are the envy of many. The Cleveland cavaliers are many things, and boring is not one of them.