Cavs: Franchise icons fill the Cavaliers’ All-1990s Team

Larry Nance, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Larry Nance, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images /
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Mark Price, Cleveland Cavaliers. JEFF HAYNES/AFP via Getty Images /

The Cleveland Cavaliers won their only title in the 2010s, reaching the NBA Finals four times with LeBron James. In the 2000s they made their first trip to the NBA Finals, having drafted the greatest player in franchise history in 2003. Yet the Cavs of the 1990s won significantly more games than they did in either decade since.

Cleveland racked up 434 wins in the 1990s, for our purposes defined as the 1989-90 season through the 1998-99 season. That was more than the 396 they won in the 2000s or the 358 they won in the 2010s. The biggest reason for this was the presence of a number of franchise icons, names well known to long-time Cleveland fans.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had an up-and-down decade as their greatest generation aged out. Franchise icons fill the Cavs’ All-1990s Team.

That includes the head coach, as Hall of Fame coach Lenny Wilkens still guided the team into the first few seasons of the decade. The Cavs set a franchise record for wins in a season under Wilkens in 1991-92, fighting their way to the Eastern Conference Finals before losing, yet again, to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

Five times during the late ’80s and early ’90s the Bulls eliminated the Cavaliers from the playoffs, stopping the team’s shot at contention in its tracks. The Cavs were never title favorites, never the top seed, but they were good enough to have a shot if Jordan hadn’t been around — a familiar refrain for every Eastern Conference team during his career.

The mid-90s saw the Cavs retool as they tried to replace longtime stars with new faces, and they posted a winning record every season but one from 1989-90 to 1997-98, when the wheels finally came off in the lockout-shortened season and they entered the stretch of losing that would eventually net them LeBron James.

Which players performed the best for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 1990s? We’ll start with a very familiar name and go from there, outlining the clear All-Decade Team for the franchise.