When the Cavaliers offically became a member of the NBA in 1970, the team was led by head coach Bill Fitch. Although the Cleveland had a tough time winning early on, they gradually started climbing up the standings until they finally made the postseason in the 1975-76 season. They finished with a 49-33 record and captured their first Central Division title. Bill Fitch was named Coach of the Year and with the core of Austin Carr, Bingo Smith, Jim Chones and Nate Thurmond, the Cavaliers made the playoffs and beat the Washington Bullets in the 1st round. They’d lose to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Finals In the following years, Cleveland would not be able to replicate their success as they would make the playoffs but lose repeatidlyover and over in the 1st round till Bill Fitch resigned in 1979.
After Fitch’s resignation, what would follow would be an era of extreme disappointment and humiliation for the club. Under Ted Stepien’s management and ownership, he oversaw a lot of questionable staff decisions that kept the Cavaliers out of contention the team till he sold the franchise to brothers George and Gordon Gund in the mid 1980s.
Despite new ownership, the Cavaliers were obviously in transition and would see 9 different coaches from 1983-86. They’d make the playoffs in 1984-85 but would lose to the Boston Celtics in the first round. In 1986, Cleveland formed a core of Brad Daugherty, Mark Price and Larry Nance. They’d find playoff success but would frequently lose to the Michael Jordan led Chicago Bulls. Jordan would be a massive thorn in the Cavaliers backside till almost all of the core stepped away from the game in 1993.
From 1993-2003, the team struggled to keep its relevance in the East as they’d frequently be eliminated in the 1st round regardless of fielding a core of Shawn Kemp, Terrell Brandon and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The team would also struggle in the latter 90s to early 2000s as they would be a perennial lottery team regardless of fielding a core of Andre Miller, Carlos Boozer and Drew Gooden.
By 2003, the team drafted LeBron James and the LeBron James era was the story in Cleveland from 2003-2010. In the 2006-07 season, the team made the NBA Finals for the 1st time in franchise history. This team would be the best team in franchise history. Despite a core composed of mainly role players alongside James, the team beat the Washington Wizards, New Jersey Nets and the Detroit Pistons in transit to the NBA Finals and a date with the San Antonio Spurs. Hopefully you didn’t do any NBA betting on the Cavaliers in the Finals, as they would be unceremoniously swept by the Spurs. still, the 2006-07 Cavalier team is the greatest in franchise history for being distinguished as the only team to get to the Finals.
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