The Next Wave of Cleveland Cavaliers Deserving of Retired Jerseys
There have been some great players to don the Cleveland Cavaliers jersey over the years see their jersey get retired. From Mark Price, to Brad Daugherty to Zydrunas Ilgauskas to Mr. Cavalier Austin Carr, there have been seven players to receive the honor of retired jerseys.
There are several players to play in Cleveland within the past decade that may well join the list. Read on to find out who I believe will, and will not get their number in the rafters.
There is no question that Kyrie Irving’s #2 will hang in the rafters when his NBA career is over. He took over as the starting point guard on a Cavs team immediately after being selected #1 overall, and made them an exciting team to watch.
His early achievements with the Cavs included winning the Three-Point Shootout, Rookie of the Year award and All-Star Game MVP. All of this was done within his first three campaigns in the league. And then LeBron came to town.
Irving stayed three more years, helping the franchise to its first ever title during the 2015-16 season. His three-pointer with a minute left in game 7 put the Cavs up by three, and helped them clinch the championship.
Collin Sexton currently wears #2, but could change his number if the team retires Kyrie’s jersey while he’s still playing in Cleveland.
Surprisingly, this one is going to be a no. Wild Thing had quite the career as a Cav over his 12 years in Cleveland. Injuries became a main theme with him, but he went from backup, to starter, to team leader. As soon as LeBron left for Miami, his role expanded significantly.
But Varejao never had his big moment. Sure, he made a game-winning three on LeBron’s birthday in a meaningless regular season game. But, he was oft-injured and his contributions weren’t significant enough over the duration of his years.
We can’t always reward a player for sticking around for a long time. Nick Collison and Udonis Haslem will both see their jerseys in the rafters (Collison’s already is), for their longevity. Varejao isn’t in the same class. He also played his final games with the archrival Warriors.
This one is a no-brainer. YES, Kevin Love will see his #0 jersey hanging in Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse when his playing career ends. He likely won’t finish as a Cavalier, but he’s done so much he deserves to be among the retired jerseys.
Love has been in trade rumors from his first season in Cleveland, and he’s handled everything like a true pro. He’s scored 30 points in a quarter, been an All-Star, and been one of the most prolific outlet passers we’ve ever seen.
Love secured his jersey retirement honor by inking a four-year extension shortly after LeBron went to LA. He wants to be in Cleveland. And for now, he is. And later on, that #0 will hang up there.
As a Cavalier, Mo Williams played in 227 games. He was an All-Star, a fantastic Robin for LeBron (Batman), and winner of a ring. His role was very small during his second tenure, but he still finished his playing days as a champ.
He will not join the Cleveland retired jerseys club, nor should he, but let’s just appreciate his contributions. Mo was a fantastic scorer, and it was fantastic to see him go out on top. The crazy thing is that Williams is probably going to go down as the THIRD-BEST Cav to wear #2.
The only way to describe Tristan Thompson’s game is with the word HUSTLE. All he knows is offensive rebounds. He is in no-way comparable to the great Dennis Rodman, but his energy on the boards despite rarely being the tallest guy in the paint (he’s 6-9) is noticeably similar.
Thompson hasn’t won any awards during his career, but he’s had to play several roles. He was primarily a bench player during three of four years in the LeBron (2.0) era, but he never complained. He went from starter to backup, and his work ethic never changed. He’s one of the most effective offensive rebounders the game has ever seen.
TT is not a lock to come back to Cleveland, but personally, I hope he does. One more year in The Land would give him 10 years of service in a Cavs uniform. He works hard, he plays his role, and you never hear a negative peep out of his mouth.
The Cavs could use a leader like Tristan in the locker room. After nine years here, he’ll be sure to have his number retired. If it came down to TT vs Varejao, I’d choose Thompson to have his jersey hang from the rafters. Sorry, Wild Thing.
OBVIOUSLY, a yes. No need to use any space to explain this one. We. Are. All. Witnesses.