The Cleveland Cavaliers are currently the single greatest hope for a major sports championship in Northeast Ohio. The last time “The Land” has won a major sports championship was back in 1964: the Browns won before the NFL Championship played the AFL and held the annual “Superbowl.”
Upon his return to the Cavaliers just before the 2014-15 season, LeBron James, the greatest basketball player in the world, became Cleveland’s prodigal son, returning home after he had “taken his talents” down to Miami, won two championships and reached four straight Finals with the Heat four years prior.
Before The King’s return, the Cavaliers were already well-equipped with the All-Star point guard, Kyrie Irving, who was drafted number one overall by the Cavaliers in 2011. Earlier that summer, the team had also hired multi-time international champion coach David Blatt. And shortly after LeBron had re-signed with his hometown team, All-Star power forward and former face of the Minnesota Timberwolves Kevin Love was traded to the Cavaliers for Cleveland’s number one pick in the 2014 draft, Andrew Wiggins.
Upon the King’s return, the Cavaliers took on huge renovations to their home, Quicken Loans Arena (called the “The Q”). A gigantic new “humongotron”—which has four massive, curved screens—was installed. The court was updated with a design that includes a silhouette of Cleveland’s skyline. It became a palace fit for a king: the King.
With LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, Cleveland now had a mimic of Miami’s former “Big Three.” And with that Big Three came higher expectations and hopes than Cleveland had had in decades: The Cavaliers were expected to win the NBA championship.
And they almost did.
The Cavaliers won the Eastern Conference Championship and made it to the NBA 2015 Finals. Cleveland’s opponent was the fast and dangerous Golden State Warriors—number one team in the regular season and led by the league’s best sharpshooter and 2014-15 MVP, Stephen “Baby Face” Curry. It was a matchup promising an amazing show, and the ratings proved it.
But disaster struck the Cavaliers. Earlier in the playoffs, Kevin Love’s shoulder was torn out by Boston Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk. Then, in the overtime loss of the first game of the finals, Kyrie Irving fractured his kneecap. The “Cleveland Curse” struck again.
However, despite gigantic setbacks, the now ragtag team of basketball players, led by the King, battled their way through a gripping Finals series, ultimately falling short to the healthier Golden State Warriors. An entire city’s hopes and dreams of ending a 50-year drought of championships collapsed while another city won its first basketball championship in nearly as long.
This offseason, the front office of the Cavaliers had one goal—keep the team together and bring in new talent. And the front office did just that. They re-signed LeBron James, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert and the beloved Matthew “Delly” Dellavedova, and brought in more talent with the likes of former Cavalier Mo Williams. While Tristan Thompson and J. R. Smith remain free agents, they are expected to re-sign, at least for the next season.
As Cleveland looks forward to its next year of hoops, its hopes of a new banner hanging from the rafters are stronger than ever. The Cavaliers have a team that has been together through the worst of times. They have a Big Three that will be remembered throughout the ages of basketball, and most importantly, as will be the team’s battle cry, they have some “unfinished business” to attend to.
Keep your eye on the Cavs this season—you’re in for a thrilling time and possibly even a ring coming to Cleveland.