Only real Cavaliers fans know what truly went into the LeBron James' "Decision," the best place to grab a burger before tipoff, or which player once left a pregame huddle to buy a hot dog from a concession stand. 100 Things Cavaliers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is the ultimate resource guide for true fans of Cleveland basketball. Whether you're a die-hard fan from the days of Bill Fitch or a new supporter of James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, this book contains everything Cavs fans should know, see, and do in their lifetime.
About the Author
Bob Finnan covered the Cavaliers for 20 years for The News-Herald in Willoughby, Ohio. He won numerous writing awards, including The Associated Press' General Excellence Award. He was also honored by the Pro Basketball Writers Association in the game story category in 2004. Finnan is currently a news reporter for the Medina Gazette in Ohio. He is married, has four children and five grandchildren. Austin Carr, known to fans in Cleveland as “Mr. Cavalier,” played for the Cavs from 1971 through 1980. Today, he serves as the Director of Community Relations for the Cavaliers and is also a color commentator on the team's broadcasts on Fox Sports Ohio. Carr's #34 is one of seven jerseys retired by the Cavaliers.
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100 Things Cavaliers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die
By Bob Finnan
Triumph Books LLCCopyright © 2016 Bob Finnan
All rights reserved.
Cavs Win 2016 NBA Championship
Grown men broke down and cried.
Finally, before many of them died, they got to experience another sports championship in Cleveland. The Cavaliers topped the Golden State Warriors 93–89 in Game 7 of the NBA Finals on June 19, 2016, to capture their first NBA title and end the city of Cleveland's 52-year championship drought.
The curse is over.
Cleveland will no longer be the butt of national jokes about its sports futility. It hadn't experienced a championship since 1964 when the Browns blanked the Baltimore Colts 27–0 for the NFL crown. Before that, the 1948 Indians won the World Series four games to two over the Boston Braves.
That left a lot of barren years in between.
Cavs forward LeBron James promised that he'd bring a championship to Cleveland when he returned in the summer of 2014. When it finally happened — giving many in northeast Ohio the best Father's Day gift ever — the 31-year-old James fell to the Oracle Arena floor and cried.
In postgame interviews that were aired over Oracle's public-address system, James said, "This is for you, Cleveland."
It touched off a week-long celebration in Cleveland and the state of Ohio. An estimated 1.3 million people attended the championship parade and rally June 22 in downtown Cleveland.
Facing a 3–1 deficit in the NBA Finals, the Cavs roared back to win the last three games, including two at Oracle, to win the coveted crown. The Cavs are the only team in NBA history to come back from a 3–1 deficit in the Finals. Thirty-two other teams had tried and failed to storm back from that deep hole.
The turning point in the series might have been with two minutes, 48 seconds left in Game 4. The Warriors were on their way to a 108–97 victory at Quicken Loans Arena when Golden State forward Draymond Green got tangled up with James and hit the floor. James stepped over Green, which seemed to provoke the Warriors' rising star. Green reached up and hit James in the groin. They were given a double technical, but the NBA's Kiki Vandeweghe reviewed the play. His hit to James' groin was upgraded to a flagrant foul, putting him over the limit of four for flagrant foul points in the postseason, meaning an automatic suspension for the following game.
"The cumulative points system is designed to deter flagrant fouls in our game," Vandeweghe said. "While Draymond Green's actions in Game 4 do not merit a suspension as a stand-alone act, the number of flagrant points he has earned triggers a suspension in Game 5."
Green had angered the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference finals with a kick to center Steven Adams' groin. Somehow, that didn't necessitate a suspension.
The play that some called dirty also seemed to light a fire under James, something even the cocky Warriors didn't want to do. In the last three games of the series, James averaged 36.3 points, including back-to-back 41-point games.
For the series, the MVP averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists. He finished off Golden State in Game 7 with a triple-double: 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists, to go with three blocks and two steals.
In Game 5, Warriors center Andrew Bogut suffered a knee injury in the third quarter of the Warriors' 112–97 loss at Oracle Arena. He landed awkwardly on his left leg trying to block a shot by Cavs guard J.R. Smith. The 79 Bogut had made a huge impact in Game 2 with five blocked shots. He missed the final two games of the series.
That wasn't the only major injury in the NBA Finals. Cavs power forward Kevin Love suffered a concussion in Game 2, which forced him to miss the following game while going through the league's concussion protocol. Love was elbowed in the back of the head by Warriors forward Harrison Barnes while going for a rebound with five minutes remaining in the second quarter of Game 2. No foul was called on the play, which left Love lying on the floor, holding his head. He later came back in the game and hit a three-pointer. The Cavs' medical staff didn't detect any concussion symptoms, but Love later became disoriented and was taken to the locker room.
"When we came back out in the third quarter, I could see in a timeout he looked kind of woozy," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue told ESPN. "He went back on the floor for a second, and then we had to get him off the floor."
Love wasn't much of a factor in the series until Game 7 when he finished with nine points and a team-high 14 rebounds.
The Cavs grabbed the momentum of the series in Game 5, as James and guard Kyrie Irving became the first teammates in NBA history to score 41 or more points in the same game in the NBA Finals.
"Our coaching staff gave us a great game plan and, as one of the leaders of the team, we just went out and executed," James said. "You've got a guy like this [Irving], who is very special. It's probably one of the greatest performances I've ever seen live. To put on the show that he did, you just go out and follow the keys and play winning basketball, and we did that tonight."
Unfortunately for the Warriors, they couldn't stop the Cavs' onslaught.
The Cavs' rallying cry was to stretch the series to Game 7, at which point anything could happen. With a player like James on the roster, that can help nullify home-court advantage.
Game 7 was a classic. The Cavs' defense in the game — and the series, really — was outstanding. They held the Warriors scoreless in the last 4:39 of the game. Warriors guard Klay Thompson's layup knotted the score at 89. The two teams were tied at 89 for what seemed like an eternity.
Two plays followed in the last two minutes that became instant classics and helped define the Cavs' moxie. Warriors swingman Andre Iguodala attacked the basket with 1:50 to play on a Golden State fast break. James' chase-down blocks have become legendary in Cleveland through the years, but none were on such a big stage and in such a key juncture in the biggest game in franchise history. He came out of nowhere to block Iguodala's layup. At first glance, it seemed like he pinned it to the backboard, which would have been goaltending. But he blocked it an instant before hitting the glass to thwart a potential go-ahead basket. Further scrutiny of the play showed that guard J.R. Smith forced Iguodala to alter his shot. That allowed James to catch up to the play and make the biggest defensive play in the series.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue got on his team at halftime of Game 7, as they trailed by seven points. "He told us, 'We've got 24 minutes,'" James told USA Today. "'We've got to play as hard as we've ever played in the next 24 minutes.'"
James said Lue singled him out in the locker room. "'It starts with you,'" Lue told James. "He got on me a little bit. [He] told me to pick up everything I've been doing and give even more effort. We all responded."
Irving put the exclamation point on the series with a clutch three-pointer with 53 seconds remaining. His 25-foot, pull-up jumper over Stephen Curry proved to be the dagger in Game 7. Irving outplayed the league's two-time MVP in the NBA Finals. He averaged 27.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 3.9 assists in the series. Curry averaged 22.6 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.7 assists.
The Cavs held potent Golden State to an average of 99.86 points in the NBA Finals, which was significant. The Warriors were first in the NBA during the regular season with 114.9 points per game, 48.7 percent shooting from the field, and 41.6 percent from the three-point line. The Warriors' 73 wins during the regular season were the most ever, as were their 88 wins combined in the regular and postseason. Golden State started the season 24–0.
When the Warriors took a 3–1 lead in the Finals, not many people gave the Cavs much of a chance. "We just accomplished something that no team has ever done," James said. "That's all the credit to my teammates and the coaching staff. They were unbelievable. Just knowing what our city has been through, northeast Ohio has been through, as far as our sports and everything for the last 50-plus years. You could look back to the Earnest Byner fumble, [John] Elway going 99 yards, to Jose Mesa not being able to close out in the bottom of the ninth, to the Cavs [going] to the Finals — I was on that team — in 2007, us getting swept, and then last year, us losing 4–2. And so many more stories."
James said the Cavs won the title for their fans.
"Our fans, they ride or die, no matter what's been going on, no matter the Browns, the Indians, the Cavs, and all other sports teams, they continue to support us," James said. "And for us to be able to end this, end this drought, our fans deserve it. They deserve it. And it was for them."
Cavs general manager David Griffin said three plays will live in Cleveland folklore forever: James' block, Irving's three-pointer, and Love's defense on Curry in the closing seconds.
Irving modestly credited James with making his moment possible. "There is no shot without the block," he said.
2016 NBA Finals
Game 1 — June 2 (at Golden State): Warriors 104, Cavs 89
Game 2 — June 5 (at Golden State): Warriors 110, Cavs 77
Game 3 — June 8 (at Cleveland): Cavs 120, Warriors 90
Game 4 — June 10 (at Cleveland): Warriors 108, Cavs 97
Game 5 — June 13 (at Golden State): Cavs 112, Warriors 97
Game 6 — June 16 (at Cleveland): Cavs 115, Warriors 101
Game 7 — June 19 (at Golden State): Cavs 93, Warriors 89 (Cavs win series 4–3)
Getting Under the MVP's Skin
The Cavs made a concentrated effort to put the defensive clamps on Warriors guard Stephen Curry in the 2016 NBA Finals. They grabbed him. They bumped him. They banged him around. They were overly aggressive with the two-time Most Valuable Player.
It all caught up with the 6'3", 190-pounder in Game 6 at Quicken Loans Arena. Curry fouled out with 4:22 left in the game. His frustrations boiled over and he threw his mouthpiece into the crowd. He was immediately ejected for the first time in his NBA career.
According to multiple reports, the mouthpiece hit Andrew Forbes, the son of minority Cavs owner Nate Forbes. Curry apologized to Forbes, and the two shook hands. "It's all good," Forbes told ESPN's Tom Haberstroh. "It just hit me, and I was like, 'Who? What?' I was just cheering, being a fan. I don't even know where he was throwing it. ... He was good about it."
Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Curry were both fined $25,000 by the NBA after the 115–101 loss. "I'm happy he threw his mouthpiece," Kerr said in his postgame comments. "He should be upset. Look, it's the Finals and everybody's competing out there. There are fouls on every play. It's a physical game. ... If they're going to let Cleveland grab and hold these guys constantly on their cuts, and then you're going to call these ticky-tack fouls on the MVP of the league to foul him out, I don't agree with that."
They were upset with many of Curry's six fouls. Kerr, the league's Coach of the Year, took issue with three of them, calling them "absolutely ridiculous." "Let me be clear: we did not lose because of the officiating," Kerr said. "They totally outplayed us, and Cleveland deserved to win. But those three of the six fouls were incredibly inappropriate calls for anybody, much less the MVP of the league."
Kerr even called out official Jason Philips by name on the sixth foul on Curry. That caused Curry to throw his mouthpiece. "I've thrown my mouthpiece before," he said. "I usually aim at the scorer's table. I was off aim. [I] definitely didn't mean to throw it at a fan. That was definitely not where I wanted to take out my frustration."
Curry hadn't fouled out of a game since December 13, 2013.
"It got the best of me," he said.
Even Curry's wife, Ayesha, barged her way into the news. She became an Internet sensation after she commented on Twitter: "I've lost all respect sorry this is absolutely rigged for money ... or ratings [I'm] not sure which. I won't be silent. Just saw it live. (Sorry)." She later deleted the tweet and apologized.
Things got even worse for Ayesha. Her father almost got arrested at The Q that night when he was mistaken for another man by NBA security. Security was heightened and on the lookout for a man who didn't have proper credentials and had been sneaking into sporting events.
Ayesha said her father was racially profiled in a story filed by Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated. Apparently, her father had a resemblance to the man.
"It's been a long night for me," she tweeted.
Curry was briefed by an NBA official about the situation with his father-in-law.
"I was just kind of debriefed on what the security thought happened with some guy that poses with fake credentials and gets backstage at a lot of events, the NBA Finals and all that stuff," Curry told The Undefeated. "They kind of profiled my father-in-law and thought he was him. They threatened to arrest him before they checked out his credentials. It's kind of been an emotional and tough night all the way around. That was kind of a traumatic situation where [Ayesha's] dad almost got arrested. So it was kind of a tough situation to deal with in a hostile environment. All in all, it's just a game. I hope that everybody is all right."
Ayesha Curry also took to social media to complain that a bus carrying the Warriors' friends and family was delayed before Game 6. She implied it was a tactic being used by the Cavs, which a team source denied. She said she arrived to The Q at the start of the game.
Beyonce and Jay Z, two of the many celebrities in attendance, were also caught in traffic congestion before the game.
Speaking of mouthpieces, ESPN's Darren Rovell said a game-used Curry mouthpiece — not the one he tossed in Game 6 — will be auctioned off by a California-based company, SPC Auctions, in August 2016. It's expected to sell for around $5,000.
"Steph Curry has given more life to mouthguards than any player in history," vice president of SPC auctions Dan Imler told ESPN. "The way he flips it in and out of his mouth has become part of watching him during a game."
Most-Watched, Tweeted Finals
The 2016 NBA Finals was an epic seven-game series that left fans glued to their seats. The NBA announced it also set records in television viewership, along with social, digital, and retail platforms.
The seven-game series was the most-watched NBA Finals in ABC history and most-watched overall since 1998. It averaged 20.22 million viewers per game. Game 7 averaged 31.02 million viewers — peaking with 44.81 million viewers — the third-most-watched NBA game ever.
A record 5.2 billion impressions and 800 million video views were generated during the Finals across social platforms. The end of Game 7 amassed 337,000 tweets per minute, the top-tweeted moment in Finals history and most-tweeted U.S. sports moment in 2016.
The Cavaliers-Warriors matchup was the most-talked about NBA Finals ever on Facebook, with a record 43 million people posting, liking, sharing, and commenting more than 269 million times.
NBA.com and the NBA app tallied a record 1.9 billion page views and 1.4 billion video views, eclipsing the previous records of 1.1 billion and 400 million, respectively, set during the 2015 Finals.
The day after Game 7, NBAStore.com had its highest sales day in store history, breaking the previous record set last season.CHAPTER 2
2003 NBA Draft Lottery
The buildup for the 2003 NBA Draft lottery was in the works for more than a year. The Cavs went out of their way to tank the 2002–2003 season to make sure they got a shot at LeBron James, a once-in-a-generation type of player.
The Akron St. Vincent–St. Mary High School star was probably better than half the players in the NBA by the time he reached his senior year in high school. The Cavs felt it was imperative they gave themselves the best opportunity for the No. 1 pick. In actuality, they couldn't have gone wrong if they had any of the top five selections — unless they were the Detroit Pistons. They had the No. 2 pick and wasted it on European big man Darko Milicic.
The Cavs finished with a 17–65 record during the 2002–2003 season, tied with the Denver Nuggets for the worst record in the league. Both teams had a 22.5 percent chance at the top pick in the draft lottery on May 22, 2003, in Secaucus, New Jersey. The top of the draft was littered with Hall of Fame talent that included James, Syracuse forward Carmelo Anthony (third to Denver), Georgia Tech forward/center Chris Bosh (fourth to Toronto), and Marquette guard Dwyane Wade (fifth to Miami).
Excerpted from 100 Things Cavaliers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die by Bob Finnan. Copyright © 2016 Bob Finnan. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Foreword Austin Carr xi
1 Cavs Win 2016 NBA Championship 1
2 2003 NBA Draft Lottery 10
3 The Decision 12
4 First Trip to the NBA Finals 16
5 Miracle of Richfield 19
6 "I'm Coming Home" 22
7 The Shot 26
8 Cavs Return to the Finals 29
9 The Turbulent & Triumphant 2015-2016 Season 32
10 The Reign Man 37
11 Carlos Boozer's Escape 38
12 LeBron James' Debut 41
13 Cavs Draft Austin Carr in 1971 43
14 Fitch Throws a Chair 47
15 Joe Tait Broadcasts Last Game 48
16 Kevin Love Gets Arm Torn out of Socket 50
17 Zydrunas Ilgauskas' Number Retirement 53
18 Mark Price: The Choir Boy 56
19 Cavs Trade Ron Harper for Danny Ferry 59
20 Cavs Become a Reality in 1970 62
21 A Parade for the Ages 64
22 Cavs Acquire Nate "The Great" 68
23 Ricky Being Ricky 71
24 Cavs Acquire Brad Daugherty in 1986 Draft 72
25 Dan Gilbert Buys Cavs for $375 Million 76
26 Visit the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame 78
27 LeBron James Wins First MVP in 2009 80
28 Willoughby Leads Cavs Past Lakers in 4 OTs 84
29 "Am I Speaking Chinese?" 85
30 Cavs Hire Wayne Embry as GM 87
31 Cavs Fire David Blatt Mid-Season 89
32 LeBron's 48-Point Outburst in Playoffs 92
33 Lenny Wilkens: The Ultimate Hall of Famer 93
34 "I'm a Heat Now" 96
35 He's No Robin 97
36 Delonte West Goes Commando 98
37 Larry Nance: The Human Pogo Stick 101
38 Long-Distance Champs 103
39 "Win a Ring for the King" 105
40 LeBron's Clutch Shot Stuns Bulls 107
41 Ted Stepien: Incompetency at Its Finest 111
42 Kobe Wearing Wine & Gold? 114
43 "Sheed Must Bleed" 115
44 World B. Frees Grand Entrance 117
45 "Bingo!" 119
46 The Czar of the Telestrator 121
47 The Underappreciated Coach of the Year 124
48 Irving Thumbs Nose at NBA Rumor Mill 125
49 Cavs Team Shop Is Over the Top 132
50 Brad Daugherty: The Cavs' Greatest Center 134
51 No-Fly Zone 136
52 The Cavs' Four-Month Rental of Luol Deng 137
53 Andrew Wiggins: What Could Have Been 138
54 The Strange Case of Bill Musselman 141
55 Trading Andre Miller 143
56 Delly Plays Himself into State of Exhaustion 144
57 The NBA: Not Just a Game 149
58 Wrong Airport 152
59 Cavs' Sneak Peek at LeBron 154
60 Earl Boykins: Small in Size, Huge In Stature 156
61 "Best Point Guard in the NBA" 157
62 The Traveling Man 158
63 Don Delaney's Meteoric Rise 159
64 "Boobie" Goes Off On Pistons 160
65 How Baron Davis Trade Reshaped Cavs 161
66 Bagley & Magley Show 163
67 The Vampire 163
68 No Dunk Contest for LeBron 164
69 The Transformation of Cedric Henderson 165
70 Tanking the 2002-2003 Season 166
71 Eric Snow: One Tough Interview 168
72 Chuck Daly: 93 Days as Coach 169
73 The 50-Point Man 170
74 Moving to Toronto? 173
75 Worst No. 1 Pick Ever? 174
76 Cavs Finally Land a Rim Protector 176
77 Don't Mess with Lonnie 178
78 The Mysterious Case of Chad Kinch 179
79 The Two-by-Four Man 180
80 Wild Thing 182
81 Walt Frazier: The Epitome of Cool 185
82 Cavs Chase Izzo, End Up with Scott 187
83 The 100-Point Man 190
84 Tristan's Big Change 192
85 Upgrading the Cavs' Defense 195
86 Trip to Stark County 200
87 "Wrong Way" Warren 201
88 Amaechi Comes Out 202
89 Magic Happens at Akron General 203
90 Kevin Ollie: One Of the Nicest Cavs 204
91 The Gatling Gun 205
92 The Cleveland Presidents 206
93 Cavs' Cm: Stand By Your Man 207
94 "Dinner Bell" Mel Turpin 213
95 Thrill of Being on the Road 215
96 The Streak 217
97 Five Wives 218
98 The Hot Dog Man 219
99 He's a Cleveland Treasure 220
100 How Much Does LeBron Have Left in the Tank? 221