Thursday, December 14, 2006

Ron Harper

TrueHoop posted a video of Ron Harper highlights and it is at once awesome and depressing.

I first started paying attention to basketball (and sports in general) in 1991 and I was a huge Cavs fan and basketball card collector (I believe my complete 91-92 NBA Hoops set is worth about 27 dollars. I am awesome).

As a young Cavs fan, I would look at dismay at the stats Ron Harper's Clippers card and it showed a few season played for the Cavaliers. I was shocked; the Cavs had a shooting guard who scored 20+ a game? WTF? How did he get away?

Well, my dad told me how the Cavs though Harper was mixed up with bad people and they traded him and roughly 10,000 future first round picks for Danny Ferry. Of course, I was dismayed, Harper was a high flyer; an athletic shooting guard and the piece the Cavaliers needed, how the hell could he have been traded for Danny Ferry? I mean, he stinks.

I then learned that Ferry was supposed to be the "Next Larry Bird". Well. That changed everything. Wait. No it doesn't. Danny Ferry sucked (although, I'm enjoying his GM tenure MUCH more than his playing career). As it turns out, Harper was a great character guy, sacrificed his game to win multiple championships and never had any sort of legal run ins.

It still kills me that I was robbed of seeing that Cavalier team grow into their prime together. Mark Price, Brad Daugherty, Larry Nance, Hot Rod Williams and Ron freaking Harper? Are you kidding me? God I would've loved to see that (side note: whenever they replay "The Shot" game, I always watch the first 5/6ths of the game, just to see the Cavs at their full strength. Then I turn it off... for some reason...). As a kid, you have no idea what I would've given to see that squad at full strength in their prime.

A lot of people my age didn't know that the Cavs had Harper or how good he was. Friends of mine have called the infamous Indians trade of Brian Giles for Ricardo Rincon the 'worst trade in Cleveland sports'. No my friends. Ron Harper. Danny Ferry.

Some other Harper notes: The year before the Cavs landed that LeBron fellow, I was 'lucky' enough to attend one of the Cavs 17 wins in person (versus the Warriors. Ricky Davis got called for a 5 second violation. I yelled something at him and the entire section looked at me like I was nuts. I guess we were supposed to be quiet at Gund Arena) On the drive home, as I've done for years, I had the WTAM post game on and Ron Harper stopped by the studio (at this point, he had retired). Mike Snyder asked to see one of Harper's five (5!!!) championship rings. Harper was more than happy to oblige, and then he lamented, "Man, it's too bad we never won one here". Man, I was sick.

The ghost of the Harper trade still lingers in Cleveland to this day. A lot of Cavs fans are clamoring for Danny Ferry (irony) to throw his hat into the Allen Iverson sweepstakes (the Cavs have declined). At least a few fans blame the Cavaliers lack of interest not on basketball reasons (you know, logical reasons. Like the fact that they don't have the trade parts, would Iverson work with James and they have no first round picks to deal (thanks Jim Paxson!)) but on the Cavs penchant for "Choir Boys" or "Boy Scouts"- character guys. Nevermind the fact that GM Wayne Embry and owner Gordon Gund are long gone and the Cavs have an entirely new infrastructure. The Cavs won't trade for Iverson because of character issues.

Man... a backcourt of Mark Price and Ron Harper? With Daugherty, Nance and Williams up front? What I wouldn't give.


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth.....I grew up in Cleveland and a friend of a friend of a friend that supposedly knew someone in the Cavs front office said that the reason that Harper was traded was because he was having an affair with Embry's wife. In any event, I agree with your thoughts, Harper was considered by many to be a poor man's version of MJ (whatever that's suppose to mean).

POJO_Risin said...

I loved Harper, was far and away my favorite player on the Cavs. I remember going to Richfield to see Dr. J's last game there. There was a friggian blizzard (the game was still packed), and everyone there got free tickets to another game for showing up.

Anyways...Doc has the ball with about 20 seconds left, and Harper's guarding him. You'd think Harper would let him score...but he D's him up, and I can't remember if he stole the ball...but I can tell you Doc didn't score there.

I can also tell you that Harper had a steal and a breakaway from Doc earlier in the game.

Harper could play, and the Cavs got raped in that deal.

Ben said...

As a kid I valued those old Ron Harper Cavs cards like they were made of gold.

See? The legends are true. Harper was a Cavalier

Anonymous said...

That 1989 Cavalier team WITH Harper started the season with the FAR AND AWAY BEST record. They were on a pace to win 64 games at the start of the season, which is outstanding.

They would go to Detroit and beat Detroit. I'm talking about the "bad Boys" championship Detroit.

The difference was the benching of Harper in favor of Ehlo.

I did watch Harper's Clippers beat Indiana in 1990. Harper had 39 points. I remember my high school coach (at that game with me and others) quipping, "How could Cleveland give him up?"

I also wish I could have seen than Cleveland team rack up Championships.

Even the Clipper team Harper was on racked up a 5-3 Eastern conference road trip when that meant something. They even came within a bucket of beating 1990 champion Detroit in Detroit.

Anonymous said...

The Cav split the season series with the World Champion Detroit Pistons that year 3-3.

You can check out their whole season at

At the halfway mark before they started benching Ron Harper, they were 37-11, whcih means .771, which means they were on a pace to get more wins than the Detroit Pistons which won 63 games or .768.

Anyways, back to reality.

Cavs Fan said...

Wayne Embry thought Harper was associating with the wrong people. But Ron was a model citizen...and yes...if the trade was never made, at least two banners would be flying in the rafters.

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