Welcome to #CavsRank 2014. Kevin Hetrick, a great writer over at Cavs: The Blog, came up with the idea a month or so ago to have Cavs bloggers rank the 20th best players to lace 'em up for the Wine & Gold. 18 writers ultimately answered the call. From Hetrick's introduction to the series:
The guidelines were that the rankings should only consider the players’ time spent in Cleveland. Each writer had the freedom to prioritize whatever criterion they wished: short runs of brilliance; many years of solid play; critical impact to the franchise’s winningest teams; or awesome hair.
Each blogger submitted a list of his top twenty Cavaliers, with 20 points awarded for a #1 ranking, down to one point awarded for the player ranked 20th. All the numbers were tallied and a composite Top 20 list was derived.
- Mallory, Robert, Tom and me from Cavs:the Blog
- Carter Rodriguez and Josh Lockwood from realcavsfans.com
- Ryan Mourton, David Zavac, Patrick Elder and Justin Rowan from fearthesword.com
- Andrew Schnitkey, Scott Sargent, Jacob Rosen, Ben Cox, and Kirk Lammers ofwaitingfornextyear.com
- Cleveland Jackson of stepienrules.com
- Amin Vafa and Eric Maroun of hardwoodparoxysm.com, and
- Scott Raab, writer of The Whore of Akron and a contributor to Esquire.
Yesterday, Carter Rodriquez of RealCavsFans.com covered the 20th best player, which ended up being a tie between Mo Williams and Nate Thurmond. Today, I have the 19th spot in the rankings. Enter: Craig Ehlo. I am excited about this project, and signed up to write about Ehlo for one main reason. Despite being oldish for the blogging community at age 26, I came to NBA fandom pretty late. I know almost nothing about the Cavaliers when Mark Price and co. were an up and coming team with real title dreams. The only thing I knew about Craig Ehlo before taking this on was the fact that Michael Jordan hit a pretty famous shot over him. So #CavsRank feels like a good way to both educate myself and a lot of the other Cavs fans who aren't that old or don't remember.
Let's talk about The Shot first.
And yes, the incident has it's own wikipedia page. It wasn't supposed to be this way. Ehlo has been immortalized as but another prop in Michael Jordan's steady but spectacular rise up the list of NBA greats. Ehlo tries to contest Jordan's game winning shot in the deciding Game 5 of the 1st Round of the 1989 Eastern Conference Playoffs. He failed, and Jordan celebrated wildly in Richfield while Ehlo fell to the ground.
This undoubtedly happened, but it misses key parts of the story in ways that will always be unfair to Ehlo. Again, I didn't know anything other than the fact that Jordan beat him off the dribble and hit a big shot. But that day Ehlo had been incredible. On a twisted ankle he scored 24 points off the bench. The 6-8 shooting guard had chased around Jordan all day, hit 4-7 three pointers, and with five seconds left finished a layup that gave the Cavaliers a lead and could very well have won the game on a nifty give and go.
After making the layup he crumpled to the ground, with real pain in his ankle. We have seen players like Paul Pierce be carried off the court for similar injuries. But there Ehlo was, trying his damndest to stay with Jordan for the last shot.
Nance was supposed to double team and messed up. RT @DavidZavac Why did the Cavs have Ehlo on Jordan even with a bum ankle?— Michael A. Young (@RealMYoung23) February 20, 2014
Jordan made the shot and the 3rd seeded Cleveland Cavaliers were out. It might not have happened that day, but as Jordan got better and better, Ehlo's spot in history became more and more secure. It wasn't supposed to be that way.
Craig Ehlo was a nice shooting guard that was really valuable to some really good Cavalier basketball teams. Drafted by Houston in the 3rd round, he came to Cleveland after his third season. He spent seven years here, and was the usual starter for his last four next to Mark Price. His usage was always pretty low, and he never had a player efficiency rating above 15 for the Cavaliers. Still, he was a willing passer and good shooter who kept the ball moving. His true shooting and effective field goal percentages were usually pretty good.
After his NBA playing days he spent some time coaching. He has recently come up in the news for a bit of legal trouble. He reportedly checked into a treatment program.
Craig Ehlo was very nearly a Cleveland hero. The game winning basket on a bum ankle and then bravely checking Michael Jordan, forcing him into an off balance midrange jumper. The shot misses, Ehlo's name has a different connotation. It's totally different. What could have been.