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There’s that iconic line in the Talking Heads classic “Once In a Lifetime” where lead singer David Byrne wonders: “Well, how did I get here?”
So how did the Wine and Gold get to where they are now – retooled and ready for another run at the Ring.
Among the current Cavaliers, some were drafted by Cleveland. Zydrunas Ilgauskas was an unknown 21-year-old selected by the Cavaliers 13 years ago, and at some point this season will be the all-time leader in games played. Jamario Moon bounced through several leagues and a stint with the Globetrotters. Anthony Parker was a star in Europe. And Shaquille had two World Championships before LeBron James had his driver’s license.
In late September, the Cavaliers will head to Camp as one big, happy family. But it took a lot of years, miles and uniform changes for the 2009-10 squad to come together. Here’s an abridged history of how they got here …
– Two-time All-American and Adolph Rupp Award winner, Shaquille O’Neal is drafted first overall by the Orlando Magic out of Louisiana State.
– After winning the Olympic Gold medal with “Dream Team III” in Atlanta, Shaquille O’Neal signs a seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakers.
– With the 20th overall pick of the 1996 Draft, the Cavaliers tab a 21-year-old Lithuanian center named Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
– Anthony Parker is drafted No. 21 overall by the New Jersey Nets and – along with Tim Thomas, Jim Jackson, and Eric Montross – is immediately traded to the Sixers for Michael Cage, Lucious Harris, Don MacLean and the draft rights to Keith Van Horn.
– Along with Harvey Grant, Anthony Parker is traded to Orlando for Billy Owens.
– With Phil Jackson at the helm, the Lakers win their first Championship since 1988, topping the Indiana Pacers. Shaquille O’Neal is named Finals MVP.
– A high school freshman in Akron by the name of LeBron James averages 21 points and 6.2 boards, leading his St. Vincent-St. Mary’s team to a 23-1 record and the Division III state title.
– Shaquille O’Neal is one vote shy of being named the first unanimous NBA MVP in league history.
– After playing just 16 games, Anthony Parker is released by the Magic. He finishes the season with the Quad City Thunder.
– One-time Nuggets video coordinator, Mike Brown, is added to Gregg Popvich’s staff in San Antonio.
– Murrah High School (Ala.) guard Maurice Williams wins the McDonald’s All-American three-point shooting contest.
– Anthony Parker leaves the NBA and signs with Euroleague heavyweight, Maccabi Tel Aviv.
– At St. Vincent-St. Mary’s, LeBron James averaged 25.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, leading his Fighting Irish to a 26–1 record and their second-straight Division III state title. LeBron becomes the first sophomore to be named Ohio's "Mr. Basketball."
– Anthony Parker leads Maccabi Tel-Aviv to the Israeli Premier League title and Euroleague titles.
– Jamario Moon plays with the D-League’s Mobile Revelers.
– Shaquille O’Neal leads the Lakers to their second straight title, capping a 15-1 playoff run by topping the Sixers in five games. Shaq is once again named Finals MVP.
– Anthony Parker helps Maccabi Tel-Aviv win the Israeli Premier League title.
– As a junior, LeBron James averages 29.0 points, 8.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists in Akron. He’s again named Mr. Basketball of Ohio as well as the 2001-02 boys' basketball Gatorade National Player of the Year.
– Alabama guard Mo Williams is named SEC Freshman of the Year.
– Shaquille O’Neal wins his third straight Finals MVP as the Lakers achieve the three-peat, sweeping the New Jersey Nets in four games.
– Jamario Moon joins the USBL powerhouse, the Dodge City Legend.
– Assistant coach Mike Brown and reserve forward Danny Ferry celebrate the San Antonio Spurs' second NBA Championship, topping the New Jersey Nets in six games.
– With the NBA salivating and media following his every move, LeBron James returns the state title to St. Vincent-St. Mary’s. As a senior, James averaging 31.6 points, 9.6 rebounds, 4.6 assists per contest. He’s named to the All-USA First Team and Mr. Basketball of Ohio for the third time and earned MVP honors at the McDonald's All-American Game.
– Anthony Parker averages 14.5 ppg in his lone season with Virtus Roma.
– Like Patrick Ewing, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan before him, there is no doubt about the top overall pick in the Draft. The Cavaliers make that pick – selecting hometown high school legend and potential hoops prodigy, LeBron James from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s.
– After starting all 64 games in two stellar seasons at Alabama, Mo Williams is taken No. 47 overall by the Utah Jazz.
– After three seasons in San Antonio, Mike Brown joins Rick Carlisle’s staff in Indiana. The Pacers win the Central Division that year.
– Jamario Moon drafted No. 43 overall by the D-League’s Huntsville Fight.
– Delonte West leads St. Joseph’s to a perfect 27-0 regular season, but is eliminated in the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
– After losing to the Pistons in the NBA Finals, Shaquille O’Neal is traded to the Miami Heat for Caron Butler, Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and a future first-round draft choice.
– Jamario Moon plays for the USBL’s Oklahoma Storm, whose home court is Mark Price Arena in Enid, OK.
– Anthony Parker leads Maccabi to the Euroleague Championship; is named Euroleague Final Four MVP.
– Jamario Moon joins the Harlem Globetrotters.
– After three years as one-half of the best backcourt in college basketball, Delonte West is drafted 24th overall by the Boston Celtics.
– Jamario Moon joins the CBA’s Rockford Lightning.
– Anderson Varejao is selected with the first pick of the second round (No. 30 overall) by the Orlando Magic. Less than one month later – along with Drew Gooden and Stephen Hunter – he’s traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Tony Battie and two future second-round picks.
– After one season in Salt Lake City, Mo Williams signs as a free agent with the Milwaukee Bucks.
– St. Ed’s grad, Jawad Williams, wins the NCAA Championship with North Carolina.
– Anthony Parker leads Maccabi Tel-Aviv to the Euroleague Championship; is named Euroleague MVP.
– University of Texas point guard Daniel Gibson is named Big 12 Freshman of the Year.
– Jamario Moon joins the ABA’s Kentucky Colonels.
– On June 2, Mike Brown is named the 17th head coach in Cleveland Cavaliers history. He is the second-youngest head coach in the NBA behind New Jersey’s Lawrence Frank.
– In a preseason exhibition against the Toronto Raptors, Anthony Parker cans a game-winner with 0.8 seconds to give Maccabi Tel Aviv the shocking 105-103 win.
– Jamario Moon leads Rome (Ga.) Gladiators to the WBA Championship.
– Anthony Parker leads Maccabi Tel-Aviv to the Israeli Cup; is named Euroleague MVP for the second straight season.
– Shaquille O’Neal, along with Finals MVP, Dwyane Wade, lead the Miami Heat to their first and only NBA Championship. It’s O’Neal’s fourth title in seven seasons.
– Jamario Moon appears in 44 games with the Albany Patroons; is named CBA Defensive Player of the Year.
– After selecting Michigan State guard, Shannon Brown, with their first round choice, the Cavaliers resist the temptation to trade up and instead find sharpshooting Texas guard, Daniel Gibson, at No. 42 overall.
– Anthony Parker signs as a free agent with the Toronto Raptors.
– Jamario Moon joins Fuerza Regia of the Mexican LNBP.
– On Draft night, the Celtics send Delonte West and Wally Szczerbiak – along with the No. 5 pick (Jeff Green) – to the Seattle Sonics in exchange for Ray Allen and the 35th overall pick, which turned out to be Big Baby Davis.
– After impressing coaches in a three-day workout, Jamario Moon signs with the Toronto Raptors.
– Toiling on the Sonics bench for most of the season, Delonte West is part of an 11-player, three-team trade that sends him and Wally Szczerbiak to Cleveland.
– Shaquille O’Neal is traded to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.
– With the 19th overall pick in the Draft, the Cavaliers surprise experts by tabbing a 19-year-old freshman from North Carolina State named J.J. Hickson. Hickson led the ACC in shooting percentage as a freshman, averaging 14.8 ppg in his first year of collegiate ball.
– At No. 52, the Miami Heat selected rugged forward, Darnell Jackson, a senior coming off a National Championship with Kansas. Later, Miami sends Jackson to Cleveland in exchange for the lower of the Cavaliers second rounders in the 2009 Draft.
– As part of a three-team, six-player trade between the Cavaliers, Bucks and OK City Thunder, Cleveland sends Damon Jones and Joe Smith to the Bucks in exchange for Mo Williams.
– After stints in Spain, Japan and Israel, Jawad Williams joins the Cavaliers Summer League Team in Vegas and earns a trip to Cleveland’s Training Camp. When Ronald Dupree is waived, Williams is part of an NBA roster for the first time.
– Jamario Moon is traded to the Miami Heat along with Jermaine O’Neal for Shawn Marion and Marcus Banks.
– For the second straight season, the Cavaliers throw a wrench into mock drafts by tabbing little-known Christian Eyenga with the final pick of the first round. At pick No. 46, the Cavaliers draft their second straight national champion in the second round, choosing UNC senior, Danny Green – a player some felt was the steal of the Draft.
– After dropping the Eastern Conference Finals in six games, the Cavaliers trade for Shaquille O'Neal in exchange for Sasha Pavlovic, Ben Wallace, cash considerations and a 2010 second round draft pick.
– Looking to add length to their backcourt, the Cavaliers ink Anthony Parker after two seasons with Toronto.
– Cavaliers GM Danny Ferry makes his first foray into restricted free agency and makes an offer to Jamario Moon. The Heat don’t match and the well-traveled forward becomes the newest member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.