LeBron James is undoubtedly the most synonymous icon in Cleveland Cavaliers franchise history. Despite being a small market team, Cleveland has had quite a rich history in the NBA. Aside from King James, a number of legends actually suited up for the wine and gold at some point in their careers. Here are five players who played for the Cavs that you probably forgot about.
Shawn Marion spent his prime years with the Phoenix Suns and won his only NBA championship in 2011 with the Dallas Mavericks. For his career, Marion was known for being an all-around player that did everything on the floor.
Marion suited up for the Cavaliers at the very end of his career in the 2014-15 season. The four-time All-Star joined Cleveland after hometown superstar returned to the franchise in the summer of 2014.
Ben Wallace anchored the Detroit Pistons defense throughout the early to mid-2000’s and ultimately winning an NBA title in 2004. He became one of the best defenders in the history of the league, winning the Defensive Player of the Year four times within a four-year period.
Wallace joined Cleveland via trade midway through the 2007-08 season as the Cavs looked to bolster their chances for a championship. However, he shifted to the power forward position with Zydrunas Ilgauskas already their starting center.
Wallace was nowhere near the defensive monster he was with the Pistons when he came to the Cavaliers. In one-and-a-half seasons in Ohio, the undersized big man averaged just 3.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 78 games.
Derrick Rose had a forgettable stint with the Cavaliers. The former league MVP became a free agent in the summer of 2017 and signed just a veteran’s minimum after getting minimal offers across the league. In late November, Rose took some time off to think about his future in the league.
When he returned, the rest of his season was clouded with injury. Moreover, he did not fit with the team all too well, especially playing alongside LeBron James. He only played 16 games as a Cavalier.
The Cavaliers had a major roster overhaul at the February 2018 trade deadline. Rose became one of the casualties as Cleveland dealt him to the Utah Jazz. The Jazz, however, found no use for him and waived him afterwards. It certainly seemed like Rose’s career was in jeopardy at that point. Fortunately, the former MVP found a second life with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Now, he is enjoying a career renaissance with the Detroit Pistons.
Like Rose, Wade also had a regrettable tenure with the Cavaliers. After having a likewise disastrous season with the Chicago Bulls, Wade joined his buddy and former partner-in-crime LeBron James in Cleveland.
However, Wade was clearly past his prime and no longer the player he was with the Miami Heat. Wade initially had qualms about coming off the bench, but eventually accepted a reserve role after the first few games of the season. Like Rose, the three-time NBA champion did not fit well in Cleveland’s roster.
The Cavaliers also dealt him midway through the 2017-18 and rightfully sent him to the Miami Heat. D-Wade eventually finished his Hall of Fame career the following season with the Heat highlighted by a league-wide farewell tour.
The Cavaliers traded for Shaquille O’Neal in the summer of 2009 in the hopes that he would increase their chances of winning an NBA championship. O’Neal set a goal to win a ring for LeBron James, who at the time, was on the quest to win his first title.
However, at this point of his career, Shaq was just a shell of his dominant self that led the Los Angeles Lakers to three straight NBA championships. In fact, he was even no longer the player that helped the Miami Heat win the 2006 NBA title.
Midway through the season, O’Neal suffered a severe right thumb injury that limited him to just 53 games in the regular season. He missed five weeks and returned in the first round of the playoffs. Unfortunately, O’Neal fell short of his goal after the Cavaliers bowed out to the Boston Celtics in the second round. In his lone season in Cleveland, O’Neal averaged 12.0 points and 6.7 rebounds.