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The Big 5-0! 50 Years of Cavaliers Basketball!

So, what decade did you start following the Cavs?


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    57

King Stannis

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During this generation of NBA basketball, I would agree wholeheartedly. Because Love's range probably outranks Nance Sr's dynamite defense and rim protection.

But (playing devil's advocate), we're talking 50 year's worth of Cavs basketball. Nearly 10 years without a three-pointer (70-80), an era without zone defenses (the 90s), and maybe some teams with more talent and other teams with more physicality. Exactly which era does this particular Cavs team work the best with? And do the more talented players manage to bring out each other's best qualities due to their high IQ?
I think you have to build around your best player. Undoubtedly that would LBJ.

Any era from the advent of the 3PT line would be one in which one surrounds the ball-dominant player with shooters.

One could play both Nance and Love, which would work except maybe the Great Era of Centers.

But even then, I think any team built around LeBron James, with a mix of shooters and at least one rim defender, is going to murder any team from any era.

Mark Price, Kyrie, Love as LBJ's shooters, getting open shots on every LeBron or Kyrie drive? Ouffda. They'd have to be hauled into court for being serial killers.
 

rabman_gold

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Let's try to inject some life into the Cavs forum (there's still a month and a half until training camp starts). So let's talk about the best teams from each of the 5 decades.

1975-76: The Miracle of Richfield



During the first 10 years of Cavaliers basketball, is there any debate that it's this team that's most deserving? They won 49 games and made it to the sixth game in the Conference Finals against the eventual champion (the Celtics). While they lacked any sure-fire stars (Chones was the closest that year, since Carr was a shell of his former self), they made up for it in heart, a big reason for one of their greatest post-season series in franchise history (VS the Washington Bullets).

1984-85's World B. Free Cavs VS 1988-89's Price-Nance-Daugherty Cavs



The 80s had a bad start, but there's two teams that come to mind: 1984-85 and 1988-89. The first one was an emotional revival of the sport in Cleveland while the other saw regular season superiority like no other. But it probably felt like the opposite in the playoffs ('85 saw a team not expected to compete while '89 had one of the city's biggest heartbreaks in its history). So what do you prefer?

1991-92 was the best Cavs Team of the 90s



The 90s started out better, but no one was expected to beat Chicago at their peak. But 1992 had some combination of '89's regular season success with '76's post-season performance. 1993 had a similar result (but slightly less), but had 3 all-star selections for a second time in 5 years. The rest of the decade had transitioned into slow, boring, and mediocre basketball (just like how the jerseys transitioned, as seen above)... A personal favorite of mine was 1997-98 since I first followed the Cavs religiously with a "star" and 3 rookies in the starting lineup.

2008-09: The Rise of King James



The 2000s were a mixed bag (especially early on), but the second half the decade was filled with incredible memories. 2006-2009 had the best of the best, so I feel it's about preference. Would you rather a team (2006) that found their niche throughout the season and pulled off similar first round feats to the Miracle of Richfield? Or a team (2007) that made it to the championship round for the first time ever? Or a team (2008) that made a big deal to change the fortunes and barely lose to the eventual champs? Or, last but not least, a team (2009) that breaks regular season records, almost makes it back to the Finals, but unceremoniously squashed in 6 games?

2015-16: "Cleveland! This is for you!"
Yeah, I know, it's cheesy, my bad...


Of course, many of you probably prefer the best prize of all: The elusive Larry 'O Brien Trophy. I probably would too. And surrounded by a dominant set of teams (2015-2018), there's not much that trumps this era of basketball, unless you hate winning?

So, 2010s be damned, what teams do you prefer to re-watch and remember the most?

For me to rank them (and only choose one team from each decade):
  1. 2015-16 (the end goal was reached)
  2. 2008-09 (an incredible regular season)
  3. 1975-76 (a Miracle in Richfield)
  4. 1988-89 (a great regular season that ends with a Shot)
  5. 1997-98 (my first dedicated season of Cavs basketball)
Reasoning: I like winning basketball, even with players that attract drama. It makes you feel great and get a good night's sleep. And if you win enough (like a championship game), you end up bouncing off walls or feeling like you can fly. It's also nice because you can watch more of your favorite team the farther you go.

But we don't have many teams like that (unlike the Celtics, Lakers, Spurs, Bulls, etc). We either have had great regular seasons with poor playoffs, or somewhat above-average seasons with great playoffs, not both. I prefer 1998 or 1992 because 1992 is almost a rehash of 1989 while 1998 is a fresh look (if not a little short).
 

King Stannis

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Let's try to inject some life into the Cavs forum (there's still a month and a half until training camp starts). So let's talk about the best teams from each of the 5 decades.

1975-76: The Miracle of Richfield



During the first 10 years of Cavaliers basketball, is there any debate that it's this team that's most deserving? They won 49 games and made it to the sixth game in the Conference Finals against the eventual champion (the Celtics). While they lacked any sure-fire stars (Chones was the closest that year, since Carr was a shell of his former self), they made up for it in heart, a big reason for one of their greatest post-season series in franchise history (VS the Washington Bullets).

1984-85's World B. Free Cavs VS 1988-89's Price-Nance-Daugherty Cavs



The 80s had a bad start, but there's two teams that come to mind: 1984-85 and 1988-89. The first one was an emotional revival of the sport in Cleveland while the other saw regular season superiority like no other. But it probably felt like the opposite in the playoffs ('85 saw a team not expected to compete while '89 had one of the city's biggest heartbreaks in its history). So what do you prefer?

1991-92 was the best Cavs Team of the 90s



The 90s started out better, but no one was expected to beat Chicago at their peak. But 1992 had some combination of '89's regular season success with '76's post-season performance. 1993 had a similar result (but slightly less), but had 3 all-star selections for a second time in 5 years. The rest of the decade had transitioned into slow, boring, and mediocre basketball (just like how the jerseys transitioned, as seen above)... A personal favorite of mine was 1997-98 since I first followed the Cavs religiously with a "star" and 3 rookies in the starting lineup.

2008-09: The Rise of King James



The 2000s were a mixed bag (especially early on), but the second half the decade was filled with incredible memories. 2006-2009 had the best of the best, so I feel it's about preference. Would you rather a team (2006) that found their niche throughout the season and pulled off similar first round feats to the Miracle of Richfield? Or a team (2007) that made it to the championship round for the first time ever? Or a team (2008) that made a big deal to change the fortunes and barely lose to the eventual champs? Or, last but not least, a team (2009) that breaks regular season records, almost makes it back to the Finals, but unceremoniously squashed in 6 games?

2015-16: "Cleveland! This is for you!"
Yeah, I know, it's cheesy, my bad...


Of course, many of you probably prefer the best prize of all: The elusive Larry 'O Brien Trophy. I probably would too. And surrounded by a dominant set of teams (2015-2018), there's not much that trumps this era of basketball, unless you hate winning?

So, 2010s be damned, what teams do you prefer to re-watch and remember the most?

For me to rank them (and only choose one team from each decade):
  1. 2015-16 (the end goal was reached)
  2. 2008-09 (an incredible regular season)
  3. 1975-76 (a Miracle in Richfield)
  4. 1988-89 (a great regular season that ends with a Shot)
  5. 1997-98 (my first dedicated season of Cavs basketball)
Reasoning: I like winning basketball, even with players that attract drama. It makes you feel great and get a good night's sleep. And if you win enough (like a championship game), you end up bouncing off walls or feeling like you can fly. It's also nice because you can watch more of your favorite team the farther you go.

But we don't have many teams like that (unlike the Celtics, Lakers, Spurs, Bulls, etc). We either have had great regular seasons with poor playoffs, or somewhat above-average seasons with great playoffs, not both. I prefer 1998 or 1992 because 1992 is almost a rehash of 1989 while 1998 is a fresh look (if not a little short).
That 91-92 team was fantastic.

They ended the Larry Bird era. And they blew out the Bulls twice that series. In Game 6 they were leading most of the time, until Jordan went nuts and scored 16 points in the last 7 minutes or so.

They always needed a proper SF. While the could play big with Hot Rod at SF, they always lacked at that Wing position as Ehlo was not athletic enough.

Of course the big FA signing that year was Gerald Wilkins, who had plagued Jordan in that incredible Semi Knick-Bulls series in 91-92. Wilkins could be play D, and also was a pretty good scorer in his own right. In today's game he would be a very valuable player.

But, he did shit in that 92-93 Semi round that saw the Cavs pretty much give up and get crushed in four games. Whatever happened, that 92-3 team underachieved as they barely beat the Nets in the first round.

So much hope for the year Jordan retired, only to see the Big 3 become the Big 1 after Daugherty and Nance went down with what become career ending injuries. Even Hot Rod broke his hand a day before the start of the playoffs.
 

WorldFreeB

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My favorite cavs team of all time was the 84-85 squad that started out 2-19,,given up for dead the team just kind of jelled,,Bagley, Free, I think Hubbard and HInson were on that team as well...they rallied to get the 8th seed and gave the first seed Celtics all they could handle in the playoffs.
The playoff games were so tightly contested that at the end of the series both teams had scored 449 points but the Celtics won the series 3-1.
Not the most talented team by any means just my personal favorite. They played their asses off.
 

Nathan S

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I wasn't alive for most of Ehlo's career, but I feel like he's being written off too quickly in this discussion. Even in 2019, could be sneaky good in a Joe Ingles kind of way. Would probably take him over Mo if I'm building an all-time roster because he gives you the same shooting/playmaking at 6'6" and is no worse on defense.
 

The Human Q-Tip

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My favorite cavs team of all time was the 84-85 squad that started out 2-19,,given up for dead the team just kind of jelled,,Bagley, Free, I think Hubbard and HInson were on that team as well...they rallied to get the 8th seed and gave the first seed Celtics all they could handle in the playoffs.
The playoff games were so tightly contested that at the end of the series both teams had scored 449 points but the Celtics won the series 3-1.
Not the most talented team by any means just my personal favorite. They played their asses off.
The effort and heart in that playoff series against the Celtics was awesome. Seeing scrubs like Ben Poquette going up against Bird and not backing down, Roy Hinson looking like a stud, World B. Free lighting it up, etc...so much fun even though we lost. Absolutely one of my favorite Cavs teams as well.
 

King Stannis

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Chris Mills was a few years too young, but he would have been exactly what the Cavs were looking for from 89-93 in a SF.

Could play D, shoot 3s.

I was really young, but other than getting torched by Jordan, did Ehlo play good defense?
 

The Human Q-Tip

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Chris Mills was a few years too young, but he would have been exactly what the Cavs were looking for from 89-93 in a SF.

Could play D, shoot 3s.

I was really young, but other than getting torched by Jordan, did Ehlo play good defense?
I think so. He wasn't great defensively, but he was really active and put out a lot of effort on that end.
 

rabman_gold

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"Yes Virginia! There is a Santa Claus, and he comes from Lubbock, Texas!"

Ehlo certainly knew how to shoot and was a good enough role player to help the team get 57 wins twice.

But it really is a pity. One era of the Cavaliers had an abundance of star-level players (Daugherty, Price, Nance, and maybe Harper) while the other had an abundance of depth (Brandon, Sura, Mills, Phills, Hill, Cage); but both eras lacked what the other had.

Imagine if Brad and Nance didn't retire. Or them (and Price) have their games fall off. Or no need to trade Harper (and didn't have his game fall off in the process).

Brad DaughertyLarry NanceChris MillsRon HarperMark Price
Hot Rod WilliamsTyrone HillBobby PhillsCraig EhloTerrell Brandon
Michael CageMike Sanders/Gerald WilkinsBob SuraJohn Battle
 

arglebargle

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Yup, the "Yes, Virginia!" line was one I was going to bring up.

That, and Bobby Phills going off for 43 in a double? Triple? overtime game with a Danny Ferry three I think it was to send the game to the first overtime. Back when it was worth it for me to watch games just to enjoy b-ball. The LeBron era(s) made me into a championship-watcher, and nothing else was worth the energy. Winning the one finally got that monkey off my back and made me able to just enjoy the game again. Now hopefully there are some newer players worth watching develop into names we'll remember years from now.
 

2 For The Brew

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My favorite cavs team of all time was the 84-85 squad that started out 2-19,,given up for dead the team just kind of jelled,,Bagley, Free, I think Hubbard and HInson were on that team as well...they rallied to get the 8th seed and gave the first seed Celtics all they could handle in the playoffs.
The playoff games were so tightly contested that at the end of the series both teams had scored 449 points but the Celtics won the series 3-1.
Not the most talented team by any means just my personal favorite. They played their asses off.
George Karl coached the living f*ck out of that team. I went to both games at the Coliseum. No team had more heart than that team. They weren't the best Cavalier team of all time but they were the most "Cleveland Cavalier" Cavalier team of all time.
 
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