Sunday, May 06, 2007

Did you know?

You thought Art Modell was bad?

When I was young, the Cavaliers had an owner named Ted Stepian. What I remember from my youth is that my father HATED him, but I never quite understood why. As I got older, I found out where that hatred came from.

Here's how bad he was;

There's a rule in the NBA that states you cannot trade your first-round pick two years in a row. The NBA created that rule SPECIFICALLY because Stepian kept shuffling off our first-round slots. Think about that....this was the late-70s/early-80s. We always had top 3-5 selections becuase we were so bad. Back then, players got drafted early who had names like Olajuwon, Abdul-Jabbar, Isaiah, Michael, Barkley.

The rule (which is actually called the "Stepian Rule") was enacted after a 5-year run in which the Cavaliers traded four first-round picks in exchange for aging veterans and the signing rights to a foreign player who never ended up coming to the league.

Another little-known fact. The team you will watch today in wine and gold was just days away from playing Toronto....but they were also just days away from BEING Toronto. Stepian had contracts drawn up to move the team and rename them the Toronto Towers (ironically, we had no players over 6'9" at the time).

The NBA, after watching Stepian's stupidity, finally stepped in and forced him to surrender operational control over the Cavaliers. The discussion around the league said that the NBA took over after Stepian tried to trade his team's next TEN YEARS worth of draft picks in one day. Eventually they kicked him out of the owner's club.

Here's my personal story. Not as frightening as the above stories, but it will show you what can happen when a team is owned by an idiot with an ego.

Dad took us all to see a Cavs game one Sunday afternoon at the Richfield Coliseum, and we were getting clobbered. During the 4th quarter, a fan took out a sign and held it was mocking Stepian, and the fans who were still left began to cheer (the guy had good seats, so most people saw the sign). After a few minutes, he placed the sign on the empty seat in front of him. Shortly after that, Coliseum security approached the man. We all began to boo because we thought his sign was going to be taken from him. But we were way off base....the man was being ejected from the game.

Had the guy's sign been taken away, I probably would have forgotten it by now. But because the guy was ejected for his horrible crime of having an opinion, it's burned into my brain as a "why the hell did that happen" moment in time.

THAT'S how bad of an owner he was.

Stepian now spearheads the Iraq War policy for the Bush Administration.

God bless Gordon Gund and Dan Gilbert for returning greatness to Cleveland. Tipoff is at 1pm. Go Cavs!

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