The Origins & History of Every NBA Team

See how jerseys have changed over the years

The Origins & History of Every NBA Team

With over seven decades of history, chances are there’s probably a lot you don’t know about the National Basketball Association and its 30 teams. Did you know that the Los Angeles Lakers once called Minnesota home? What about the fact that the Boston Celtics have had 24 players inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame? How about that the Los Angeles Clippers are supposedly cursed?

We’re diving deep into the history of every single current NBA team. You’re going to learn about how the teams came to be who they are today, including how the franchise was created, relocations to new cities, unexpected name changes and evolutions of jerseys and logos.

You’ll find out where your favorite stars hit the court in their home cities, accolades each team brought home and teams that have a solid representation in the Hall of Fame.

So, what do you actually know about the NBA? Let’s find out!


Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers are most recently known as the team LeBron James played for; however, the team has a rich history stemming all the way back to 1970 when they started out as an expansion team in the NBA.

The Beginning Years

In 1970, Nike Mileti founded the Cleveland Cavaliers. The team had a rocky start and didn’t win any titles until 1976, when they won the Central Division title and went to the playoffs for the first time. In 1980, Mileti sold the franchise to Ted Stepien for $2 million. Under Stepien, they lost nearly $15 million in coaching changes, trades and drafts, and poor attendance from the team's fans. There is now a rule in place named the “Stepien Rule”, which bars teams from trading consecutive first round draft picks.

This led to financial turmoil and Stepien sold the team to George and Gordon Gund for $20 million. This purchase also allowed the Cavaliers to remain in the Richfield Coliseum, which was owned by the Gunds. The Cavaliers returned to the NBA playoffs in 1988 and the following season, achieving a record of 57 wins and only 25 losses, making it clear the Cleveland Cavaliers were on the rise.

Although the team did not win the finals, they still made it to the playoffs for five consecutive years in the early 1990s. After that, the team floundered and did not return to the NBA playoffs from 1998 to 2005. In 2005, the Cavaliers were bought by Dan Gilbert for a hefty price of $375 million. The following year, and largely thanks to LeBron James, the Cavaliers returned to the playoffs in 2006.


The Cleveland Cavaliers have only won one NBA championship in 2016 against the Golden State Warriors. The championship was a monumental victory for Cleveland, as they became the only team to come back from down 3-1 in the finals.


The Cleveland Cavaliers have been through a few different logos through the years.

At the team's founding in 1970 the logo featured a cavalier in red, a yellow basketball, and the team’s name in a circle.
In 1983, the Cavaliers updated their logo to simply say “Cavs” with the V being decorated to look like a basketball hoop. The logo was monochromatic in red.
In 1994, the team updated their logo again. The logo still used the team’s nickname “Cavs;” however, the basketball hoop was no longer part of the letter V and instead was on its own above the team’s name. The logo also changed from red to blue.
In 2003, the Cavalier’s color scheme received an update to a wine colored red and deep navy blue. The logo felt more stoic with a basketball, the team’s name, and a simple cavalier sword.
In 2017, the Cavalier’s updated their logo once again to a shield, sword, and just the letter C along with the team’s name.

Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse

Location: Cleveland, Ohio

Capacity: 19,432


The Cleveland Cavaliers’ played at the Cleveland Arena from 1970 to 1974 before moving into the Richfield Coliseum where they remained until 1994. In 1994, the team moved into the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse which they still call home today. The Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse is in downtown Cleveland and is also home to the Cleveland Monsters hockey team.

Famous Fans

Due to Lebron James’ star power, there are many other famous stars who are Cavaliers’ fans. R&B singer Usher is even part owner of the franchise. Other famous fans include Jay-Z and Beyonce, Warren Buffet, Justin Bieber, Hulk Hogan, Jimmy Hart, Michael Strahan, Johnny Manziel, and Kate Upton.

Retired Numbers and Hall of Famers

In the NBA, there’s no honor quite like having your number retired with the team you poured your blood, sweat, and tears for. The Cleveland Cavaliers awarded this honor to 7 former players, including:

Bobby "Bingo" Smith
Zydrunas Ilgauskas
Larry Nance
Mark Price
Austin Carr
Nate Thurmond
Brad Daugherty

Interestingly enough, the No. 11 was “unretired” in 2018 so that Larry Nance Jr. could honor his father’s legacy with the Cavaliers by sporting the same number.

There are four Cavaliers who have been inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame including Walt Frazier, Shaquille O’Neal, Nate Thurmond, and Lenny Wilkens.

LeBron James is still playing basketball and is currently playing for the LA Lakers; however, he is also a noteworthy Cavalier having played for the team twice from 2003 to 2010 and then again from 2014 to 2018. James is considered to be one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Once he retires, expect the cavaliers to rightfully retire his jersey.

Did any of the Cavaliers’ history surprise you? We’d love to know your thoughts.