Cleveland Cavaliers Details
The Cavaliers were formed in 1970 and have played in Cleveland throughout their entire tenure in the NBA. The team has played in Quicken Loans Arena since 1994.
The Cavs franchise had limited success—a single division title in 1976 and a trip to the conference finals in 1992—until they were able to draft LeBron James with the first overall pick in 2003. James, who made the transition to the NBA straight from high school, won the NBA’s Rookie of the Year award in his first season. He led the Cavaliers back to the playoffs in the 2005-06 season, and the team made its first NBA finals appearance in 2007, when they were swept by the Spurs. The Cavs continued to make the playoffs the next three seasons, and they were the NBA’s top team—winning over 60 games—in 2008-09 and 2009-10, with Lebron James winning the regular season MVP award.
After a second-round loss in 2010, LeBron James left the Cavs, announcing his decision to play for the Heat in an infamous hour-long ESPN special. James is from Akron, Ohio, and many fans felt betrayed that a hometown hero could leave. The Cavaliers did not make the playoffs during LeBron’s four seasons in Miami, and a last place finish in their first LeBron-less season (the team dropped from 61 wins to 19) earned them a first-overall pick that they would use to draft Kyrie Irving.
LeBron returned home for the 2014-15 season, vowing to bring a title to Cleveland. In addition to James, the Cavs also traded for Kevin Love, and the team became an almost instant championship threat. The Cavs returned to the NBA finals in James’ first season back. Irving and Love were injured for most of the series against the Warriors, and LeBron’s 35.8 points per game average in the finals was not enough: the Cavs lost in six games.
In 2015-16, the Cavs returned to the finals for a rematch with the Warriors. After giving the Warriors a 3-1 series lead, the Cavs fought back to win the series in seven games. The Cavaliers are the only team to make a 3-1 series comeback in the NBA finals, and LeBron had fulfilled his promise to bring home a championship. The Cavaliers broke a 52 year curse: no Cleveland major sports team had won a title in that time. They faced the Warriors for the 3rd consecutive year in the 2017 finals but lost in five games.
Next season, with new addition Derrick Rose, the Cavs will look to make their fourth straight NBA Finals appearance, and LeBron James will try to make his record-eighth-straight appearance in the finals.