Before he was an assistant on Flip Saunders' coaching staff, and before he won any of his five rings as a player with the Bulls and Lakers, Ron Harper was once a rising star with the Cavaliers. Born and raised in Ohio, he led his hometown team in scoring as a rookie, scoring 22.9 points per game in 1987. After helping the Cavs to the playoffs in 1988 and 1989, he was traded to the Clippers in 1990, leaving many fans in Cleveland wondering what could have been. Bill Livingston of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes:
Talking to Harper, a first-year Pistons assistant coach, is taking a class in what might have been. It has been 15 years and more since the worst trade in franchise history sent Harper, the so-called "poor man's Michael Jordan," to the Los Angeles Clippers and ransacked the draft for the future in return for the rights to Danny Ferry.
"They never gave that team a chance," Harper said. "Who knows how far we might have gone in 1989? We lost on the last shot in the first round. I was from Ohio. I had been in Ohio a long time. I wanted to stay in Ohio."
Mark Price was the outside shooter and scoring point guard. Harper was the inside slasher and overcoat-tight defender at shooting guard. The Cavs were no longer credible contenders to win it all after Harper was traded.
Ron Harper: What might have been? [Cleveland Plain Dealer]