Larry Nance Jr. gets real on emotions he deals with whenever he faces Cavs in Cleveland

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Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports

Larry Nance Jr. may have moved on from the Cleveland Cavaliers, but he said the team will always have a special place in his heart as he continues his NBA journey.

“I miss the guys,” Nance told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon Journal. “I miss the coaching staff. I miss the training staff. They’re just good people here. This is going to be my home forever, so there are people here and relationships here that I’ll have hopefully way beyond when I’m playing.”

The center played in four seasons with the Cavs, the last during the 2020-21 NBA campaign. After being traded to the Portland Trail Blazers during the following offseason, he is now in the midst of his third season with the New Orleans Pelicans.

Nance, who turned 31 years old on New Year’s Day, was unable to take the court in Cleveland against the Cavs for the Pelicans on Dec. 21 because of a rib injury. He is averaging 4.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game in 16 appearances this season.

In 182 regular season games with the Cavaliers, his most for any of his NBA teams, Nance averaged 9.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He helped them reach the 2018 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Golden State Warriors.

Of course, Nance’s ties to the organization run deep. His father Larry played seven seasons for Cleveland, joining the Cavs during the 1987-88 campaign and ending his NBA career with the 1993-94 season. His brother Pete plays for the Cleveland Charge in the G League as he works toward making his NBA debut.

This offseason, Larry Nance Jr. expressed some gratitude in being able to move on and play someplace other than Cleveland, saying the experience of following his father had become “redundant.”

The Cavaliers have not yet called up Pete Nance despite dealing with numerous significant injuries this season, most notably to Darius Garland (jaw) and Evan Mobley (knee). The two starters remain sidelined with the Cavs set to face the Toronto Raptors on Monday night.

Cleveland sports an 18-14 record having won five of its past seven games, a stretch that includes the recent 123-104 loss to the Pelicans when Larry Nance Jr. was unable to play.

The Pelicans don’t return to Cleveland again during this regular season, but the teams do meet again in New Orleans on March 13. If Larry Nance Jr. is able to take the court for that one, it sounds like it could be an emotional experience for the veteran.

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Mike is a veteran journalist who has covered the NBA for almost three decades. One of his favorite sports memories is the Cavaliers-Nets playoff series from 1993.