Deciphering the Decade

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For the first time in several summers, the Cavaliers are a team totally in flux. On Tuesday afternoon, owner Dan Gilbert will announce Chris Grant as the team’s new general manager. But there are still questions to be answered after that.

So, while we ponder the Wine and Gold’s future, cavs.com decided to take a look at the past – a thumbnail sketch of the previous decade of Cavaliers basketball.

From the franchise’s early depths to their recent heights, a decade is a lot to capsulize, so we tried to get it done in under 1,000 words.

So, in 982 words, here is an abridged version of the last ten years, in which the Cleveland Cavaliers …


… began the decade by naming Mark Price, Austin Carr, Shawn Kemp, Larry Nance and Brad Daugherty members of the 30th Anniversary team.

…witnessed Akron native LeBron James’ incredible brilliance – becoming the first Cavalier to be named Most Valuable Player (twice). In seven years – beginning with a 25-point 9-assist night in Sacramento on Oct. 29, 2003 – James has already established Hall of Fame accomplishments, leading the Cavaliers franchise to unprecedented heights.

… clinched their division for the first time in 33 years in March, 2009 – eventually taking the Central by 25 games and repeating the next season by a 15-game margin.

… reached the NBA Finals in 2007 for the first time in franchise history – topping their nemesis Detroit Pistons in six games behind LeBron James’ heroic 49-point effort in Motown and Daniel Gibson’s second-half explosion in Game 6 at The Q. Unfortunately, Cleveland was swept in four games by the Spurs in the Finals.

… were purchased in March 2005 by Dan Gilbert, chairman and founder of Quicken Loans – who shortly thereafter invested over $30 million in Quicken Loans Arena renovations, as well as upgrades to the Cavaliers executive offices and the development of the Cleveland Clinic Courts.

…saw Paul Pierce get in a mid-game shooting contest with Moondog, saw Ricky Davis shoot at the wrong basket in order to get a triple-double, and watched Drew Gooden grow a “Gucci patch” on the back of his head.

… were presided over by three General Managers – Wayne Embry, Jim Paxson and Danny Ferry.

… opened a brand new 50,000 square foot state-of-the-art player development facility – the Cleveland Clinic Courts – in Independence.

… sported two totally different uniforms and color schemes in the decade – and donned as many as five different threads in 2009-10 alone.

…featured players named Ruben Boumtje-Boumtje, Smush Parker, Flip Murray and Zendon Hamilton – as well as a Yogi (Stewart), a Jiri (Welsch), a Bimbo (Coles), and a Bruno (Sundov).

… saw players hit some of the biggest and most dramatic shots in franchise history – Damon Jones’ 18-foot series-clinching baseline jumper in Game 6 against Washington in 2006, giving Cleveland its first trip to the Second Round in 12 years and LeBron James’ game-winning three-pointer against Orlando in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals at The Q.

…watched Zydrunas Ilgauskas and LeBron James rewrite the record books – leaving only field goal percentage (Mark West, .533), defensive rebounds (Brad Daugherty, 4,020) and Mark Price’s 3-pt. field goals made (802) and his all-time assists marks (4,206) still intact.

…compiled Playoff records against: Detroit (11-6), Washington (12-4), Chicago (4-1), Atlanta (4-0), Boston (5-8) and San Antonio (0-4)

…watched LeBron James become the first Cavalier since their first year in existence to score 50 points when he dropped 56 on Toronto in 2005. He’s scored 50 or more in seven games since.

…saw Andre Miller become the first Cavalier to lead the league in assists in 2001-02 – averaging 10.9 helpers per contest on a team that finished 16th in the league in scoring.

…knocked the Washington Wizards out of the First Round of the playoffs in three straight seasons.

…knocked the Chicago Bulls out of the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

…saw one player leave the Cavaliers and proceed to win the Euroleague Championship (Trajan Langdon) and signed another who won two Euroleague titles (Anthony Parker) before coming to Cleveland.

…won the 2003 Draft Lottery in Secaucus, New Jersey when the four ping-pong balls pulled from the tumbler added up to “23.”

…welcomed Tractor Traylor and Joe Smith back for two tours of duty.

…were jilted by Carlos Boozer in July, 2004, but proceeded to make lemonade from lemons – trading Tony Battie and a second-round choice for Drew Gooden, Steven Hunter and 2010 All-Defensive first teamer, Anderson Varejao.

…saw Andre Miller turn in the Cavaliers’ first four double-doubles of the 21st century, with LeBron James notching the next 34.

… began the century with Danny Ferry as a ballplayer and a 25-year-old center, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, considering retirement after playing just one full season. Both still had hair.

…had only one player in the last decade turn in a 20-point/20-rebound game: Carlos Boozer, who did so twice.

…traveled to China in the summer of 2007 – taking on the Orlando Magic in Shanghai and Macao.

… saw Mike Brown become the only Cavaliers coach besides Bill Fitch in 1976 to be named “Coach of the Year.”

… selected these players in the first-round this decade: Jamal Crawford (2000), DeSagana Diop (2001), Dajuan Wagner (2002), LeBron James (2003), Luke Jackson (2004), Shannon Brown (2006), J.J. Hickson (2008) and Christian Eyenga (2009).

…averaged 11,497 fans per contest with two total sellouts in 2002-03. In 2009-10, they averaged 20,562 – selling out every game of the season.

… have had three players make the All-Star Game in the past ten years. Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who made two trips – in 2003 and 2005. Mo Williams, who made his first mid-season classic appearance in 2009, joining LeBron James, who played in his sixth All-Star Game in 2010. LeBron was named All-Star MVP twice (2006 in Houston and 2008 in New Orleans).

…featured some local products like Jawad Williams, J.R. Bremer, Earl Boykins, Eric Snow and, of course, LeBron James.

… dealt for a four-time Defensive Player of the Year (Ben Wallace) and four-time NBA Champion (Shaquille O’Neal).

…lost 65 games in one season (2002-03) and won 66 in another (2008-09). In the 66-win season, the Cavaliers won one less game in March (16) than they did all season (17) in the campaign before landing LeBron.

…have seen six coaches come and go, including Randy Wittman (62-102), John Lucas (37-87), Keith Smart (9-31), Paul Silas (69-77), Brendan Malone (8-10) and Mike Brown (272-138).