The Ultimate Guide to Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey History

by | Apr 1, 2024 | NBA Jerseys

The Cleveland Cavaliers jerseys history is an incredible story woven with tradition, innovation, and unforgettable moments.It started with those classic wine and gold looks that were instantly iconic for the franchise. But as the years went on, we saw them get more modern and bold to match the rising talent, like those sleek LeBron era designs with the fresh fonts and trim lines.Of course, no Cavs jersey will ever top those championship-winning “Earned” navy alternates from the 2016 epic comeback against the Warriors. Jerseys don’t get more meaningful than ones tied to a legendary title run like that.Recently, the Cavs have gotten super creative by using the City Edition series to celebrate Cleveland’s culture and history through uniform designs. Whether it’s repping the rock music legacy, industrial roots, or unique local traditions, these jerseys have become a true representation of the city’s identity.
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1970-74 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

The Cleveland Cavaliers joined the NBA as a brand new team in 1970, along with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Buffalo Braves (now the Los Angeles Clippers).

In those early 1970s years, the Cavaliers rocked some slick but simple jerseys made by Rawlings. Across the front was “Cavaliers” handwritten big and bold. The jersey colors were wine red and gold, which are still the Cavs’ main colors today.

They picked those colors to represent Cleveland’s industrial roots (the wine red) and ambition for prosperity (the gold).

While the jersey designs were pretty basic compared to today’s flashy looks, they were iconic for establishing that early Cavaliers vibe as the new kids on the NBA block.

In 1970, the Cavs’ first year, they had the worst record in the league at 15-67. In 1971, they drafted Austin Carr from Notre Dame with the #1 overall pick. Carr quickly became a fan favorite as one of the franchise’s first superstars, earning the sweet nickname “Mr. Cavalier.”

1974 was a big year – the Cavs opened their new home arena, the Richfield Coliseum. This modern venue gave the players and fans an awesome place to catch games.

1974-80 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

1974-80 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey home
1974-80 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey away

During this period, the Cavs stuck with a pretty classic jersey look while making some minor tweaks. Their jerseys were made by Medalist Sand-Knit and kept that iconic wine red and gold color scheme.

Across the front was “Cavaliers” written in big, bold letters – usually a blocky, uppercase font. Underneath was the player’s large number, easy for fans to see during games.

Some jerseys had trim around the neck and arm holes with the secondary color (gold or wine red) as an accent. The lightweight shorts matched the jersey colors and trim for a unified look on court.

While the overall design stayed consistent, you may have seen small updates to materials and construction over those 6 years as companies kept improving uniforms. But the Cavs wanted to keep their brand identity recognizable.

This was an era of building for the future, even if the Cavs didn’t win any championships yet. In 1974-75, Campy Russell represented Cleveland in the NBA All-Star game as one of their rising stars.

In 1975, Bill Fitch was hired as the new head coach. His leadership would be hugely important for the team’s success just a few years later in the 1980s.

1980-83 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

1980-83 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

The Cavaliers had some fresh looks from 1980-83, rocking unique jersey styles made by Medalist Sand-Knit. Their signature wine red, gold, and white colors were used in eye-catching new ways.

At home games, the Cavs sported gold jerseys as their primary look. Across the front in huge, bold block letters was “CLEVELAND” – usually in wine red or gold with white outlines. The lettering and numbers had that classic, chunky font style.

But the real standout detail was the funky striping pattern on the front. Two thick white and wine-colored stripes went across the jersey, giving it a bold, dynamic vibe.

On the road, Cleveland rocked wine red jerseys with gold and white accents. The team name and numbering used that same distinct lettering as the home unis, keeping their branding consistent.

While the colors stayed true to the Cavaliers’ identity, these early 80s jersey designs incorporated fresh graphic elements like striping and unique typography. The Cavs blended their traditional palette with some new-age flair.

1983-87 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

1983-87 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

In the 1983-84 season, the Cavs went through a major uniform makeover and ditched their classic wine and gold colors. Their fresh new look featured a vibrant combo of burnt orange, bright white, and royal blue.

The road jerseys were burnt orange as the main color, with the lettering and numbers in white outlined with royal blue. At home, the jerseys flipped it, white as the base with those same orange and blue accents.

Design-wise, these jerseys kept things pretty simple and let bold colors do the talking. No fancy patterns or striping, just that eye-catching orange-white-blue color-blocking.

But the most unique part was the logo across the chest. Instead of spelling out “Cavaliers”, it just said “CAVS” in a distinct font where the “V” was designed to look like a basketball hoop! This special logo represented a new image for the team.

One other modern tweak – instead of just having numbers on the back, players’ names were stitched onto a patch on the back shoulder area.

While the Cavs didn’t win a ton of games in these unis from 1983-1987, the look has gained a cult following over the years. That bright orange-blue combo and hoop-inspired “CAVS” logo made the jerseys unmistakable classics.

1987-89 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

1987-89 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

The late 1980s brought another jersey revamp for the Cavs that kept building their new image. These 1987-1989 uniforms made a big change. Royal blue took over as the dominant color instead of that bright burnt orange from before.

For both the home and road jerseys, royal blue covered most of the base. Meanwhile, orange transitioned to more of an accent color used for lettering, numbers, and trim details.

Design-wise, the jerseys stayed pretty clean and simple, letting that bold blue-and-orange color combo do the talking. But they did add a subtle white pinstripe outlining the sleeve and neckline areas.

One element that carried over? The distinct “CAVS” chest logo with the “V” making a basketball hoop shape – an iconic look they’d stick with.

These blue-and-orange unis arrived just as an exciting young talent named Brad Daugherty was breaking out for Cleveland. While the Cavs still weren’t playoff-bound yet, Daugherty and the fresh jerseys gave fans optimism about the franchise’s future direction.

1989-94 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

1989-94 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

The Cavs rocked two distinct jersey looks during the late 80s and early 90s, and the jerseys are made by Champion.

These clean white home jerseys had blue and orange accents. Across the front was “CAVS” in a bold blue font with an orange outline. The player’s number used the same blue-and-orange color combo, appearing big on the front and back.

On the back above the number was the player’s last name arched across the top.

For away games, Cleveland busted out blue road jerseys with orange pinstripes. Instead of just “CAVS”, the chest had “CLEVELAND” printed in orange with white outlines.

The player’s digits were in orange with a white outline on the front and back of these blues. Just like the homes, the name was arched up top on the back above the number.

These two uniform sets gave the Cavs a classic iconic look in both the home whites and road blue during the early 90s era.

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1994-97 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

1994-97 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

In the mid-90s, the Cavs switched up their look again with some fresh jerseys, made by Champion, featuring a really distinctive new style.

For the home whites, the base was clean white but had this light blue “splash” pattern across the chest area. The word “CAVS” was printed super big and bold, using a custom black font with an orange outline. And the player numbers were in white with black outlines, sitting just below that huge “VS” in the “CAVS” lettering.

The road blacks mirrored that same design concept, just flipping the colors. So instead of a white base, it was black. But that light blue splash was still there on the chest. And rather than saying “CAVS”, it had “CLEVELAND” spelled out in orange and black letters. The numbers used the same black-and-white outlines as the homes, positioned below the “LAND” in “CLEVELAND.”

Having the home and road jerseys designed as opposites like that created this really sharp, cohesive vibe for the Cavs whether they were playing in Cleveland or on the road.

Those distinct 1994-1997 Cavs uniforms ended up becoming pretty iconic looks for the team during that era. They were rocked by high-flyers like Shawn Kemp after he joined in ’97. The jerseys were such a fan favorite that the Cavs have even busted them out as throwback alternates in recent years.

While that mid-90s stretch wasn’t the most successful period on the court for Cleveland, those unique Champion jerseys with the splashed patterns and massive lettering have definitely stood out as beloved classics in Cavs’ uniform history.

1997-99 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

1997-99 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

From 1997 to 1999, the Cavs jerseys went through another transition to keep up with the changing looks and trends around the NBA. Manufactured by Starter, these uniforms represented an evolution from their early 90s styles into something with a more modern aesthetic.

One of the biggest updates was a switch-up to the lettering colors. Instead of having that orange outline around the text like before, the lettering went to a black outline for the home whites and white outline for the road blues/blacks.

Orange was still there as the base color, but this lettering tweak gave the jerseys a crisper, higher-contrast look that was easier to read during games.

The designs maintained some DNA from the previous Cavs looks. These 97-99 jerseys aimed to look a bit sleeker and more current with the lettering and color updates.

They were the jerseys Shawn Kemp rocked after getting traded to Cleveland as the team pushed hard for playoff success those seasons.

1999-03 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

1999-03 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

For a couple seasons from 1999-2001, the Cavs rocked jerseys made by Puma that had a consistent style for both their home and away uniforms.

The road jerseys during this stretch were mainly navy blue as the base color, with orange pinstriped trim accents. Across the front it said “Cleveland” in clean white lettering with a blue outline.

The player’s number was big and centered on the chest area. On the sides were two vertical stripes – one orange, one blue – adding some cool visual pop. The shorts matched the jersey’s navy/orange/white color scheme and design details.

At home, the Cavs wore white jerseys that basically mirrored the roads, just flipping the colors. So these whites had baby blue pinstriped trim instead of orange.

And instead of saying “Cleveland”, it was “CAVS” arched across the front in navy lettering with a white outline. The number on the front and stripes on the sides followed that same inverse color layout from the roads.

Then in 2001, when the Cavs switched over to Reebok as their manufacturer for the next couple years, they stuck with this same jersey design.

2003-06 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2003-06 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey
2003-06 Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys alternate

Those Cavs jerseys from 2003-2006 were pretty iconic, especially since they were worn by LeBron James and the crew during LeBron’s early years in the NBA. Along with stars like Carlos Boozer and Anderson Varejão rocking those threads, it was a special time for Cavs fans.

The home jerseys were mostly white with wine and gold trim. “Cavaliers” was spelled out across the front in wine with a gold outline, and the player’s number was centered below in navy blue. There was also a “Cleveland” script above the shorts’ waistband.

The away jerseys were the opposite, mainly wine-colored with white and gold trim. But the design was the same, with “Cavaliers” in white and gold on the front and matching shorts.

These are considered throwback jerseys now, but they’ll always be connected to LeBron’s rookie 2003-2004 season.

They were made of breathable polyester mesh by Reebok, who supplied NBA jerseys back then. The wine and gold colors gave them a distinct look that fans loved.

In the 2005-2006 season, the Cavs added a navy blue alternate jersey with gold trim. “CLEVELAND” was written across the front in big white letters with a gold outline. LeBron wore this one a lot that year when he went off for over 31 points per game on average.

While not as popular as the classic wine and golds, this navy alt jersey still gets love from fans who remember LeBron balling out in it. Pretty cool piece of Cavs heritage from that era!

2006-10 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2006-10 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

Those Cavs jerseys from 2006-2010 were straight classics, produced by Adidas, and keep the same design as years ago. Worn by legends like LeBron James, Shaquille O’Neal, and Anderson Varejão, these threads had an iconic look that Cavs fans went crazy for.

Of course, the main reason these jerseys are so iconic is because of LeBron’s first stint with the Cavs. He led them to the 2007 Finals wearing these – even if they couldn’t get past the Spurs that year.

Cavs fans go nuts for representing those old wine and golds from LeBron’s first Cleveland era. They’ll always be a huge part of the team’s jersey heritage!

2010-17 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2010-17 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey
2010-17 Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys

Those Cavs jerseys from 2010-2017 were straight fire! Worn during the team’s epic championship run with LeBron, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and the crew, these threads will always have a special place in Cavs history.

In 2010, the team unveiled brand new jersey designs with a “return to wine and gold” theme. They wanted to bring back that classic 70s Cavaliers look with a modern, bold twist.

The home whites had a deep wine base with “CAVALIERS” in huge wine letters across the front – no outline or anything. The player’s number was centered below in that same wine color.

For the away jerseys, it flipped to a deep wine base with “CLEVELAND” in big gold letters on the chest. Again, the number was in gold right below.

Both jerseys had the “All for One. One for All” Cavs mantra printed on the inner collar. And you’d see the team’s “C-sword” logo on the shorts too.

Of course, the biggest reason these jerseys are iconic is because of LeBron rocking them in his epic return to Cleveland in 2014. Two years later, he finally brought the city its first NBA championship in those crazy wines and golds!

That 2016 championship run instantly turned these into “classic” Cavs jerseys that fans go nuts for as throwbacks now.

Some fans even call them the “deep wine and gold” or just “championship” jerseys because of how they’re forever tied to that 2016 title. Absolute must-haves for any diehard Cavs fan!

2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys
2017-18 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

For the 2017-2018 season, the Cavs had four fresh jerseys designed with Nike – the Association (white), Icon (wine), Statement (black), and the slick new City Edition grays.

The white Association jersey was a classic look with just “CAVS” bolded across the front. The wine Icon jersey had “CLEVELAND” in bright yellow letters.

The black Statement threads featured the “C” logo spelled out in that iconic wine and gold color combo.

But the real head-turner was the City Edition grays. It was the first time the Cavs ever rocked gray on court and the design repped the “Defend The Land” spirit of the city.

All the jerseys used Nike’s Dri-FIT tech to wick away sweat and keep players cool, plus their lightweight AeroSwift material for breathability.

That 2017-2018 season was a wild ride for the Cavs though. The big drama was Kyrie Irving getting traded to the Celtics in the offseason, breaking up the LeBron superteam.

The start of the season was super inconsistent as they integrated new guys like Isaiah Thomas and dealt with injuries. There was even a stretch where Coach Lue had to miss games.

But LeBron and Kevin Love helped rally the squad in the second half as they fought through a brutal Eastern Conference playoff bracket.

They had an epic rematch against Irving’s Celtics in the East Finals, winning that seven-game series in dramatic fashion.

Unfortunately, their storybook run got shut down hard by the Warriors in the Finals. Golden State swept the series 4-0, denying LeBron’s quest for a second Cavs championship.

So while it ended in disappointment, that scrappy 2017-2018 season showed the heart of a team led by an all-time legend in LeBron. And those fresh new Nike jerseys will always be tied to that memorable year.

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2018-19 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2018-19 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey
2018-19 Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys

For the 2018-2019 season, the Cavs had four different jersey looks, the classic Association whites, the wine Icon, a fresh navy City Edition, and the special ice blue Earned Edition threads.

The white Association was a standard with just “CAVS” across the front. The Icon stayed wine-colored with “CLEVELAND” in yellow like the year before.

But the City Edition brought something new – a cool navy base with white/gold details and a script “Cleveland” on the chest. The design repped the city’s hardworking spirit.

The real head-turner though was the ice blue Earned Edition. The Cavs got these special playoffs jerseys for making the playoffs in 2018. That icy color paid tribute to frigid Cleveland winters on the Lake Erie shores that fans brave to support the team.

Like the 2017-2018 jerseys, these all had Nike’s sweat-wicking Dri-FIT tech and breathable materials.

Unfortunately, that 2018-2019 season was pretty rough for the Wine & Gold. The biggest heartbreak was LeBron James leaving for free agency to join the Lakers after carrying the franchise for years.

With LeBron gone, it turned into a total rebuild year. Coach Lue was fired after an 0-6 start, with Larry Drew taking over. The focus shifted to developing young talent like rookie Collin Sexton and Cedi Osman.

By season’s end, the Cavs had just 19 wins – the third-worst record in the league. While that stung, at least it landed them a high draft pick to help the rebuild by snagging Darius Garland.

2019-20 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2019-20 Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys
2019-20 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

For their 50th season in 2019-2020, the Cavs broke out some seriously fresh jersey designs to celebrate their rich history and connect with the Cleveland community.

The Classic Edition threads were a cool throwback to the team’s original black, orange and powder blue look from their inaugural 1994-95 season at Gund Arena. A nice vintage nod to where it all began.

But the real showstopper was the City Edition jersey designed by Nike. These were part of Nike’s lineup made to rep each NBA team’s hometown culture and identity.

For the Cavs, their City Edition paid tribute to that iconic navy blue alternate they rocked from 2005-2010. They had a dope feather design on the chest to add some Cleveland flair.

2020-21 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2020-21 Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys
2020-21 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

For the 2020-2021 season, the Cavs had a couple of really unique jersey looks that paid major tribute to Cleveland’s legendary rock and roll roots.

Their Statement Edition threads were simple but fresh – a sleek black base with “C” in bold wine across the chest and the player’s number below in wine with a thin gold outline.

But the real showstopper was the City Edition jersey honoring the 25th anniversary of The Who’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The best part though? If you look closely at the letters spelling out “Cleveland” on these City Edition jerseys, each one is styled after the logo of a different legendary rock band!

We’re talking about the Sex Pistols, The Who, David Bowie, Metallica, The Beatles, Nirvana, N.W.A., Pink Floyd – all the titans of rock hidden in that wordmark. Such an insanely creative way to rep Cleveland’s musical heritage on the court.

While some people dug the bold look and others thought it was a bit much, you have to give the Cavs props for swinging for the fences with this City Edition design. It took major creativity to mash up sports and music culture in such a fresh way for The Land.

2021-22 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2021-22 Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys
2021-22 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

The Cavs’ City Edition jerseys for the 2021-22 season were a nostalgic blast from the past.

These slick wine and gold threads featured a dope checkered border pattern that was a callback to the franchise’s very first uniforms way back in 1970 when they debuted.

But the coolest part had to be the team rocking that classic original Cavs logo across the chest – the one from the inaugural ’70 season. Pair that with a number font inspired by their late-90s jersey style, and you’ve got a perfect blend of heritage and fresh design.

It was just a fun way for the Wine & Gold to celebrate over 50 years of franchise history and pay respect to the uniform roots that started it all in ’70.

2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys
2022-23 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

For the 2022-23 season, the Cavs had fresh jersey designs.

The Icon Edition was a return to classic Cavs style with that signature wine and gold coloring. These Nike joints had a simple court-inspired look and used their Dri-FIT tech to keep players dry and comfy.

The Statement Edition switched it up with a bold black base and geometric patterns. The lettering was in wine and gold for an eye-catching contrast. These were Jordan Brand jerseys.

The City Edition uniforms celebrate the Cleveland Metroparks, featuring white with tan lettering and numbers, accented by light blue. Emblazoned with “The Land” across the chest, this design incorporates earthy tones and cool blues, reflecting the natural beauty of Ohio’s green spaces.

The biggest moment was definitely the Cavs landing Donovan Mitchell in that huge trade with Utah back in September. Adding an All-Star talent like him instantly raised Cleveland’s championship hopes through the roof.

And sure enough, Mitchell helped propel the young Cavs squad to their first playoff appearance since 2018 – and first without LeBron leading the way. Just a huge step for the rebuild and bright future of this core.

2023-24 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

2023-24 Cleveland Cavaliers Jerseys
2023-24 Cleveland Cavaliers Jersey

The Cavs are bringing major showtime vibes to the court with their fresh City Edition “Marquee” jerseys for the 2023-24 season!

These limited edition threads are all about celebrating Cleveland’s iconic theater district and rich performing arts culture. The deep red base color is inspired by the ornate, luxurious interiors you’d find inside the historic venues of Playhouse Square.

But the real headliner is the super intricate chest design featuring stylized playbill graphics and details that mimic a curtain opening before a big show. It perfectly captures that theatrical grandeur the city is known for.

Even the unique jersey numbers have a marquee-inspired font to drive home the spectacle theme. Just an all-around brilliant crossover between Cleveland’s sports and arts scenes.

When Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland and the gang take the court in these dramatic City Edition joints, they’ll be repping the cultural institutions and vibrant talent that define The Land off the court too.

Cleveland Cavaliers Special Jerseys

2015-17 Pride

Cleveland Cavaliers Special Jerseys 2015-17 Pride jersey

The whole Pride jersey thing was actually an NBA-wide initiative to promote diversity and inclusion starting in 2015. A bunch of teams got their own special edition pride looking to spread that message on the court.

While you don’t see them in the rotation anymore, those particular Cavs jerseys still hold so much meaning from that 2016 championship story. Fans go crazy trying to collect them as memorabilia from one of Cleveland’s most legendary playoff runs.

Christmas Jerseys


Cleveland Cavaliers Special Jerseys 2014-15 Christmas


Cleveland Cavaliers Special Jerseys 2015-16 Christmas


Cleveland Cavaliers Special Jerseys 2016-17 Christmas

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Sandy Lee

Hi! I’m Sandy Lee, the creator of Jerseys Wiki. As a lifelong sports enthusiast with a special fondness for sport jerseys, I’ve created this space to share my passion. Join me as we explore the rich tapestry of sports jerseys, Learn more about me.
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