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Basketball Offensive Plays - The UCLA 1-4 Set

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NBA History: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers joined the NBA in 1970 as an expansion team. They struggled coming out the gate, finishing a league worse 15-67 in their inaugural season. The team slowly improved over the years, becoming a winning team in the 1975-76 season under coach Bill Fitch. They finished with a record of 49-33, good enough for the division title and their first playoff appearance. They would advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they would lose to the eventual champion Boston Celtics.

The Cavaliers spent the next two seasons as a semi-competitive team, making the playoffs both years. They would lose in the first round in each year. The following season, the Cavaliers went 30-52 in what would be Bill Fitch’s last with the team.

In 1980, disaster came to the team in the form of new owner Ted Stepien. Stepien was involved with many poor trades and signings. Many of his trades involved giving away first round draft picks. The NBA created a rule that outlawed teams from trading first round draft picks in consecutive years in direct response to the damage Stepien had done to the team. His name would be immortalized following the creation of the rule, as it eventually became known as the “Stepien Rule.”

In the mid-80s, the team was purchased by George and Gordon Gund. They gradually returned to their winning ways under their direction. In 1986, Cleveland added Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, Larry Nance, and Ron Harper to their roster. The four players formed the core of what would become a very competitive team that consistently made the playoffs and won 50 plus games in 3 seasons.

The Cavaliers played as the backdrop in what would become one of Michael Jordan’s most signature moments. In the 1989 Playoffs, the Cavs and Jordan’s Chicago Bulls were tied at two games apiece in the best-of-five first round series. Jordan sank a jumper as time expired, putting the Bulls ahead by one and ensuring they would advance to the next round of the playoffs.

The Cavaliers struggled through much of the 90s and the early 00s. They suffered losing season after losing season, becoming fixtures in the NBA Draft Lottery. In 2002-03, the Cavs finished 17-65. The record was the third-worst in franchise history.

The poor record turned out to be a strike of good luck for the team, as it was a contributing factor in them obtaining the number one overall draft pick for the 2003 NBA Draft. LeBron James was entering the Draft as one of the most hyped player in league history. He entered the Draft straight from high school, which he attended in nearby Akron. Predictably, the Cavs used the number one pick on LeBron James, and the team has enjoyed tremendous success ever since.

LeBron James proved to be the real deal in his first year, winning Rookie of the Year and leading the Cavs to an 18 win improvement. In Game 5 of the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals against the Detroit Pistons, James had a historic 48 point game in which he scored his team’s final 25 points, leading his team to a dramatic overtime victory. The team would eventually go on to their first ever NBA Finals, where they would be swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

The current season and the 2009 season have been very successful for the Cavs. They won 66 games last year, which was the most in the league. They are currently on track to finish with the most victories yet again this year. In 2009, despite their regular season success, the Cavs couldn’t get by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference finals. This year, with newly acquired center Shaquille O’Neal and a year to think of what went wrong, the Cavs will look to avenge last year’s loss and return to the Finals.
The future of the franchise hinges on the decision LeBron James makes this summer regarding his free agency. His contract expires at the end of the year, and predictably several teams will attempt to sign him. He announced earlier in the year that he will no longer answer questions about the subject. His decision, and the events leading up to it, will presumably be one of the top stories of this summer.