The Cleveland Cavaliers sure have come a long way from first playing in front of 6,144 fans! An expansion club created in 1970, the Cavaliers earned their catchy moniker in a naming contest put on by The Plain Dealer newspaper. Jerry Tomko wrote the winning essay and declared the team would "represent a group of daring, fearless men, whose life's pact was never surrender, no matter what the odds." Ohio's only NBA team appropriately operates by the credo: "All for one. One for all."
The team has made multiple playoff appearances, the first coming in the "Miracle of Richfield" season under coach Bill Fitch. Several late-game heroics earned the team its inaugural Central Division title in the exciting 1975-1976 campaign.
Thirteen years later, in what would become an instant classic, the Cavs battled the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the Eastern Conference championships when Michael Jordan made "The Shot" on Cleveland's home floor. This stunning moment ended the Cavs' season and started Jordan's reputation as a clutch shooter.
Many great players have come and gone throughout the team's history, including Austin Carr, Nate Thurmond, Bobby "Bingo" Smith, Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, and Larry Nance, but nobody had the hype quite like a local kid from Akron, LeBron James. James, already a pop culture icon after his time at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, was taken by the Cavs as the top pick in the 2003 draft. He became the first player in franchise history to be named the NBA Rookie of the Year, and by 2006, was the fourth player in the league's history to average at least 31 points, seven rebounds and six assists for an entire season.
Fans went crazy for King James -- especially during his pregame chalk toss routine -- and he led the team to its first conference title in 2007. James became a free agent in 2010, and during a live interview on ESPN coined "The Decision", he stated that he would be taking his talents to South Beach and joining the Miami Heat in search of his first ring. Miami went on to win back-to-back titles, and James was the MVP of both finals. He opted out of his Heat contract in 2014 and announced in a Sports Illustrated essay that he would be returning to his roots and playing for the Cavs once again.
Cleveland is widely known as the rock and roll city (it's even home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum) thanks to a local radio host, Alan Freed, who popularized the phrase and heavily promoted the music on air during the 1950s. Freed referred to himself as Moondog, so in a nod to the famed DJ, the Cavs' mascot Moondog was introduced in 2003. Moondog regularly hits no-look, over-the-head shots from half court to the delight of the crowd and can often be seen at events around town.