Not many NBA players can say that they got the opportunity to play for their childhood team. Well, in early February Larry Nance Jr. became one of those select few when he was traded from the Los Angeles Lakers to his favorite team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. Nance grew up about forty minutes away in Akron and attended Revere High School, where he was a superstar for the Minutemen. But even if he grew up in Northeast Ohio, being a Cavaliers fan has always been in Nance’s DNA and even his namesake.
Nance Jr. is the son of Cavaliers legend Larry Nance Sr., who spent seven seasons with Cleveland and had his #22 retired by the organization. Senior is obviously a fan-favorite and when Junior came to town, fans were beyond ecstatic to see the Nance family legacy continue in Cleveland. The fan hype reached a fever pitch at one point, with fans, and Senior, wanting more than anything to see Junior wear his dad’s retired number. At first, Nance was adamant in respecting his dad’s legacy but eventually came around to the idea of it and now considers it an honor to wear his dad’s number with the team that retired it.
The buzz that Nance generated with the fanbase also translated to the court as well. After Nance’s arrival, the Cavaliers played some of their best basketball of the season winning nineteen of their last twenty-nine games and entered the NBA Playoffs as the fourth overall seed in the Eastern Conference. This would be Nance’s first time in the NBA Playoffs, and it meant the world playing for his childhood team. It meant even more that he got to play alongside his childhood idol, and fellow Akron native in LeBron James:
“To watch LeBron in the playoffs over and over again and to look up to a guy like that and then get to actually play alongside and help one of your idols is unbelievable. It’s the perfect way to start off hopefully a long playoff run and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Nance, alongside James, were both key factors in the Cavaliers reaching the 2018 NBA Finals where they, unfortunately, fell to the Golden State Warriors 4-0.
But, with nearly half a season and one playoff run now under his belt, all eyes look towards the future for both Nance and the Cavaliers. Soon after Cleveland’s season ended James left the Cavaliers for the Lakers, Nance’s former team. With James gone, a lot of outsiders view the Cavaliers as lottery bound with Vegas odds projecting them to win around 30 games next season.