I am here to present my all-time starting five for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
I thought about doing all-time starting lineups for the Indians and Browns as well, but decided that that would just be too much work. I’m on summer vacation, after all, and to sort through 100-plus years of Tribe history, and then to decide on 22 guys from the Browns history...
Well, let’s just say it’s a bit more appealing to pick five guys from 38 years of play, especially when the team stunk for about 25 of those 38 years. Anyway, this is my list, with positions and years of their time with the Cavs. Feel free to comment below.
Without further ado:
PG: Mark Price (1986-1995)
A four-time All-Star, Mark Price was the player every kid growing up in Cleveland emulated in the late '80’s and early '90s. Well, him—and that Michael Jordan guy. Price holds franchise records in assists, three-pointers made, steals, and free-throw percentage.
In his nine seasons with the Cavs, Price averaged 16.3 points and 7.5 assists per game and was the first player in franchise history to be named to the All-NBA First Team. Really the only negative thing anyone can say about Price is regarding his disastrous turn as a color analyst for the team on FSN Ohio during the 2004-05 season, which still gives me nightmares.
SG: Austin Carr (1971-1980)
“AC” was the first relevant player in team history, a highly-touted guard out of Notre Dame who was a scoring machine. Unfortunately, injuries likely robbed him of his true potential as an NBA player, as he averaged over 20 points per game in his first three seasons before missing significant time the next two years.
Like Price, Carr spent nine seasons with the Cavs and averaged 16.2 points per game. Unlike Price, Carr has had a successful stint as the color analyst since 1998. No, he’s not always the most insightful, but his energy—and chuckles after LeBron dunks—are infectious.
SF: LeBron James (2003-???)
Any debate on this one? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
He’s scored 10,689 points in five seasons. He led the team to its first conference championship. He's a global icon. Leaving him off this list would be like leaving the Beatles off of a list involving the greatest British bands of all-time.
PF: Larry Nance (1987-1994)
Talk about a stat-sheet stuffer. He averaged 16.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.4 blocks per game in his time with the Cavs—and this includes his final season when he played in just 33 games and made 19 starts.
Nance was a three-time All-Star, twice with the Cavs, and made the All-Defensive team three times with Cleveland as well. Before his tenure with the Cavs, Nance won the first NBA Slam Dunk contest in 1984—no “small” feat considering he’s 6'10"—and according to his Wiki page, he is currently an IHRA drag racer.
C: Brad Daugherty (1986-1994)
His career ended after eight seasons at the age of 28 due to chronic back injuries, so who knows what the five-time All-Star could have accomplished had he been healthy? (This is a common theme among the players on this list, none of whom played after age 34—LeBron, please stay healthy!)
Daugherty averaged 19 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game with the Cavs. Steady and consistent—statistically, his rookie season was his worst and he still put up 16 and eight a night—Daugherty was the team’s all-time leading scorer until that LeBron fella came along. He’s still the all-time leader in rebounds and is probably the only Cavs to transition from basketball to NASCAR commentator –—aybe every once in awhile he gets to see Nance at an IHRA event, too.
Others receiving consideration (in no particular order): World B. Free, Phil Hubbard, Shawn Kemp, Mike Mitchell, Andre Miller, Bingo Smith, Craig Ehlo, John “Hot Rod” Williams, Ron Harper, Jim Chones, Terrell Brandon, Zydrunas Ilgauskaus, Larry Hughes (just kidding), Eric Snow (really just kidding)
(Special thanks to basketball-reference.com for the stats. Between that and sister site baseball-reference.com, I don't know where I'd be in life right now.)