Cleveland Cavaliers

From Ohio History Central

In 1970, Nick Mileti organized the Cleveland Cavaliers, a professional basketball team that plays in the National Basketball Association. Playing in the Cleveland Arena, the team struggled during its first season, finishing last in the league, with a record of fifteen wins and sixty-seven losses. Over the next several years, the Cavaliers improved dramatically, especially after moving to the Cleveland Coliseum, in Richfield, Ohio, in 1974. The Coliseum helped team owners to attract better players, as the players sought to play in more modern and comfortable environments. In 1976, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the Central Division title and earned the team's first playoff spot.

In 1980, Mileti sold the Cavaliers to Ted Stepien. The team floundered under his leadership, winning just fifteen games during the 1981-1982 season. Stepien simply did not have the necessary experience to lead the team. Financial difficulties quickly arose, causing the owner to trade the team's most-talented and best-paid players.

In 1983, Stepien sold the Cavaliers to George and Gordon Gund. The team's financial situation improved, as did its performance on the basketball court. The Cavaliers returned to the playoffs in 1988, under head coach Lenny Wilkens, who the Gunds hired in 1986. The next year, the team achieved its best record, with fifty-seven wins and twenty-five losses. In 1994, the team moved from the Cleveland Coliseum to Gund Arena, in the center of downtown Cleveland. During the first part of the 1990s, the Cavaliers also made the playoffs for five consecutive years. By the late 1990s, the team, however, faltered. From the 1998-1999 season to the 2004-2005 season, the team failed to make the playoffs. In 2006, however, the Cavaliers, led by LeBron James, returned to the NBA playoffs.

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