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The Cleveland Cavaliers were born 40 years ago this month when the NBA voted to give Cleveland a team: Our weekly photo flashback

By Dave Davis, The Plain Dealer

February 24, 2010, 12:01AM
 

Cavs first NBA draft in 1970Cleveland's new pro basketball chiefs select their first players in the NBA college draft on March 23, 1970. From left are: assistant coach Jim Lessig, coach Bill Fitch and owner-general manager Nick Mileti. CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The National Basketball Association's Board of Governor's, meeting behind closed doors in Los Angeles, voted on Feb. 6, 1970, to award Cleveland one of four expansion teams.

The other cities that were winners on that Friday included Buffalo, Portland, and Houston.

"It's like a dream come true," said Cleveland's new majority owner Nick Mileti, who put down $100,00 in earnest money before leaving the NBA meeting in California.

Over the next two years he would pay the NBA a total of $3.7 million for the team.

In that first year, Mileti was hoping to bring in an average of 4,000 people a game.

But he had to work quickly. It was just six weeks until the NBA draft. And the team didn't have a name. It didn't have a coach.

Download PDF pages of The Plain Dealer's front page story announcing Cleveland's new pro basketball team.

ClevelandJoinsNBA7Feb1970Page1.pdf

ClevelandJoinsNBA7Feb1970PageC2.pdf

Below is a photo slide show of the Cavs in the 1970s.

 

See all the photos in the Cavs are born gallery.



Comments

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kosmodragon
Posted by bigmarketBS
February 24, 2010, 2:50AM

This is good stuff. I remember that series against the Bullets. I was glued to my transistor radio listening to Joe Tait make the call when Snyder sunk the game winner. I never moved from that radio. It was the first time the Cavaliers were on the NBA map and even fans from other teams luved this underdog team. Far cry from today.

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kosmodragon
Posted by bigmarketBS
February 24, 2010, 2:55AM

This is good stuff. I remember that series against the Bullets. I was glued to my transistor radio listening to Joe Tait make the call when Snyder sunk the game winner. I never moved from that radio. It was the first time the Cavaliers were on the NBA map and even fans from other teams luved this underdog team. Far cry from today.

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ba44109
Posted by ba44109
February 24, 2010, 8:00AM

For people who really enjoy sports in general and basketball in particular it has been a fun and eventful 40 years. I went to the games in the late 1960's featuring the then Cincinnati Royals at the old arena. Those games were to judge the Cleveland market for the NBA. I saw the great Boston Celtics of Bill Russell etc. playing against "The Big O" and Jerry Lucas. I became a big fan of the game then. We used to sholve the snow off the playground and pretend to be those greats as kids.

I have seen it all with The Cavaliers. From the early seasons at the arena where I got seat under the basket 20 minutes before tip-off for 5 bucks. (Also met Wilt Chamberlain walking from the motel across the street in his warmups). I was at the all the home playoff games during the "Miracle or Richfield" season. (louder than any Rock concert). I even attended games during the dark days of the "Stepien Era" The late 80's early 90's teams of Price, Daugherty, and Nance were great and fun to watch. The early days of Gund Arena were decent teams. The pre LeBron James era was tough to take with the knuckleheads like Ricky Davis and Daruis Miles. Now the greatest era in Cavaliers' History. The LeBron James Era.

Through it all. It has been worth all the ups and mostly downs to see and enjoy professional basketball. Don't expect perfection. It will never come. Even in a championship year. Quit all the second guessing and whining and enjoy what you are seeing now. The greatest player and the best basketball in Cavaliers' history.

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knight31
Posted by knight31
February 24, 2010, 8:47AM

The old Cleveland Arena was where the Cleveland Red Cross headquarters is now on Euclid, right?

I was just at the game last Thursday against Denver and realized, in the elevator lobby to the luxury sweets, they have the center court from the Coliseum on one wall and the center court from the Arena on the other wall..... the one from the Arena was warped, uneven, and you could see the nail holes and seams and gaps between the boards. That must have been a treat to play basketball on lol!

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dadavis
February 24, 2010, 10:26AM

You're right knight31. The old Cleveland Arena was located at 3717 Euclid Ave. I never saw a game there, but one of the writers here told me that the players used to dress in a hotel across the street because the locker rooms were so bad. Then they'd cross the street in their uniforms for the game.
A different era - and in some ways I miss it. Cavs season tickets that first year were $4 to $6 a game. And as a bonus you might have found yourself standing next to a player while waiting for a break in the traffic on Euclid Ave.

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ba44109
Posted by ba44109
February 24, 2010, 11:48AM

As I noted in my post above. I actually got to meet and talk to Wilt Chamberlain while walking across the street from the motel parking lot to the Arena. I was sixteen and that was the largest man I had ever seen up to that point. I saw a few other players on the street but never had the chance to actually talk to them.

You are right it was a different time and place. In many ways a better time and place for sports. Kids actually played the sports (instead of playing them on video games and in fantasy leagues)and understood what sports were all about. Now, if you don't win the championship you are trashed over the internet by someone who has never played sports in their life.

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KingGeorge53
Posted by KingGeorge53
February 24, 2010, 10:06AM

I remember going to the coliseum prior to the Cavs to see the Harlem Globe Trotters often praying the roof wouldn't cave in. TY for sharing this series. : ) Hold on here! Why didn't anyone mention Shawn Kemp? hahahaha

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Goggles Pisano
Posted by Goggles Pisano
February 24, 2010, 2:56PM

Funny how the NHL passed on Cleveland for their 1967 expansion because the old Arena was not considered sufficient for an NHL franchise. Three years later the NBA considered the same dump of an Arena perfectly fine for an NBA franchise.

I am barely old enough to remember the Arena. At the time I was much more interested in the pigeons flying around the rafters than the game.

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snowfall
Posted by snowfall
February 25, 2010, 2:33AM

I was just less than 1 year old at the time -- I was very stirred and have never been the same since . . . GO CAVS!!!!

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