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The Cleveland Presidents? The Cavs Name History!

As the Cavs continue their winning ways by defeating the Raptors Saturday night, who can forget how the Cavaliers were named? Wait. You didn’t know? You weren’t born? How close was this team to the Cleveland Presidents? Well, let me help you.



Bob Finnan wrote a wonderful book called, 100 Things Cavaliers Fans Should Know Before They Die. Story #92 is a must read!



Jerry Tomko was from Eastlake, Ohio. Nick Mileti, then owner of the Cavaliers, worked a naming contest with The Cleveland Plain Dealer. 


From Finnan’s book, Tomko’s entry won him a pair of season tickets for the 1970-71 season. (Pg. 206) Tomko wrote:


“The name, Cleveland Cavaliers represents a group of daring, fearless men whose life pact was never surrender, no matter what the odds.”


Pretty apropos! This team as constituted kept fighting through injuries. The Miracle of Richfield a great example, too! The other names submitted included Presidents, Jays, Towers and Foresters.



From those five names “Cavaliers” won out.


But imagine if one of the other four stood out?




Nah…stupid. Jays are from the “crow” family. Not my idea of a sports team. “The Crows make it 17 out of 18 last night in Toronto.” Ugh! Ugly birds…like the Ravens!




That might have been interesting. Terminal Tower. Tower City. Twin Towers…wait. Maybe not.


(From Crain’s Business)


THAT would be a serious nod to our history! It’s Cleveland’s first and oldest nickname! From the Case Western Reserve’s Encyclopedia of Cleveland History:


Credit for inspiring the name, however, is generally given to WM. CASE (William Case), secretary of the Cleveland Horticultural Society in the 1840s and mayor (1850-51), who encouraged the planting of shade and fruit trees … A count in 1940 found 221,198 trees in the city in addition to 100,000 others in the parks. “Forest City” was still the name of some 30 large and small firms in Greater Cleveland in 2020.

Check that last line! Thirty companies STILL use the name!



Let’s see. We have many former players who don a president’s surname. 


Harrison? Andrew.

Jackson? Cedric, Darnell, Luke, and Jim!

Jefferson? Richard!

Johnson? Anthony, Daryl, Eddie, and John. Kannard, Kevin, Reggie, and Jay.

Kennedy? DJ.

Washington? Bobby and Richard.

Wilson? Mike.


Have I missed one? 


Hmmm, maybe that would have been a good nickname. LeBron would have been the PREZ and not the KING. World B Free would have been asking for votes!


Cavaliers! Winner!

But we cheer for the Cavaliers, or Cavs because it’s easier to spell and fit on a jersey!


According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term, cavaliers, has origins with the word “horseman” and “knight.” In the 1600’s it meant gallant, brave. By the 1800’s it morphed into “disdainful.” Figures, right? Only in Cleveland!


But my reasoning why it’s the best? Look back to 1981.


I present the Chevrolet Cavalier automobile! Designed and first introduced in 1981, it was a compact car and the first to use the “j platform.” History wasn’t kind for the 1981-1982 season and our NBA club. With their 15-67 record and the four head coaches employed, I posit that CAVALIERS is truly the best choice for this club after that disastrous season!

Introducing that car in that year is SUCH a Clveland thing! (Poor Phil Hubbard!)


Thanks, Mr. Tomko! Not just for your entry, but your son, Brett, who won 100 games in MLB, mostly with Cincinnati. Even though he was 0-2 in five games started against the Tribe.


And now you know the rest … of the story! Go Cavs!


I am a math teacher in SW Ohio. Born and raised in NE Ohio, I am married with four sons who keep the flame burning for all things Cleveland. I cover soccer, betting, football and anything that focuses on the human side of sports.

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