John Hollinger of ESPN.com recently ranked the 30 NBA franchises based on historical results. The Cavs, thanks in large part to the last six years, ranked 19th/30.
19. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS: 43.59 POINTS PER SEASON (1970-2009)
Playoff wins: 64
Series wins: 13
Titles: 0 All-Stars: 30
Best player: LeBron James
Best coach: Lenny Wilkens
Best team: 2008-09 (66-16, lost in conf. finals)
Contrary to popular belief, the story of the Cleveland Cavaliers does not begin with the selection of LeBron James in the 2003 draft; it doesn't even begin with their winning the NBA draft lottery. No, the Cavs were a real, live NBA team for three decades before that. Unfortunately, most of that time was spent near the bottom of the standings.
The Cavs joined the league in 1970-71 and produced the "Miracle at Richfield" in 1976 when the team made the Eastern Conference finals after having never won a playoff series or had a winning record. But that would be the Cavs' only playoff series win in their first two decades of existence.
• Cleveland Cavaliers (1970-present)
Instead, the Cavs became synonymous with the incompetent ownership of Ted Stepien, who caused the league to establish the rule that a team can't trade draft picks in consecutive years in order to thwart his destructive tendencies.
Eventually he sold the team, and the Cavs built a very solid club in the early 1990s ... just in time to be repeatedly victimized by Michael Jordan. Led by Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Ron Harper, the Cavs won 57 games in 1989 and 1992 and 54 in 1993, but Jordan's Bulls beat them all three times -- most infamously on the shot by Jordan over Craig Ehlo at the buzzer of Game 5 of the first-round series in 1989.
After a couple of playoff series wins in the mid-1990s, things were quiet until James' chapter began. He took Cleveland to the Finals in 2007 with an epic outburst in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals against Detroit, but the overmatched Cavs were swept by San Antonio in the Finals. They were much better in 2009, with 66 games and an MVP award for James, but were foiled by Orlando in six games in the conference finals.