Ron Harper played as a guard for 15 seasons in the NBA and has won five NBA rings during his tenure with the three-peat teams, the Chicago Bulls and the Los Angeles Lakers. In the recent episode of Andre Iguodala‘s Point Forward podcast, Celtics star Jayson Tatum made an appearance where they discussed Harper’s son Dylan, who is currently a top recruit in high school basketball.
From this topic, Iguodala and Tatum moved to discuss the 1989 postseason, where Michael Jordan led the Bulls to the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, defeating Ron Harper’s Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. Jordan’s iconic Game 5 shot against Craig Ehlo in the final three seconds of the game sent the Bulls roaring past the Cavaliers 3-2 in the series.
During that series, Ron Harper suffered a micro-fracture that restrained him from participating in the games. However, 4x NBA champion Andre Iguodala believes that Harper could have stopped Jordan’s iconic buzzer shot to give the Cavs a further chance in the 1989 post-season. Offering his flowers to the 5x NBA champion, Iguodala remarked,
“Ron Harper, he had micro-fracture back then and so he couldn’t get back to himself. But he should have been guarding Jordan on that Craig Ehlo shot. Like, Ron Harper was really like that!”
Harper would later join the Bulls alongside Michael Jordan and help win the Bulls their second three-peat between 1996 and 1998. Furthermore, the shooting guard continued his tryst of winning championships with the Lakers alongside Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. In his 15-season-long career, Harper averaged 13.8 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game.
Ron Harper did not agree with the Cavs’ decision to let Craig Ehlo guard Michael Jordan
Ron Harper trusted his abilities as a competent basketball player and was frustrated with being unable to guard Michael Jordan in the 1989 Eastern Conference first-round playoffs. In the ESPN documentary The Last Dance, Harper expressed his dissatisfaction with the coaching decisions and said,
“We are up by one and I said, ‘Coach, I got MJ. I got MJ!’ So the coach tells me I’m going to put Ehlo on MJ, and I’m like, ‘Yeah okay, whatever. F**k this bullsh**t.”
However, Harper’s former Cavs teammate Craig Ehlo was surprised to learn of these comments from Harper. In an interview reported by Sports Illustrated, Ehlo revealed that he was assigned to guard Jordan so that Ehlo could rest on defense and focus on the offense. Disputing Harper’s sentiments, Ehlo said, “I don’t really remember him during our time wanting to play defense that much. He kind of shocked me with those comments, saying he wanted to guard Michael.”
As much as Harper and Ehlo might dispute their claims, the result remains how Jordan surpassed the Cavs in 1989. It was only in 2016 when LeBron James and Kyrie Irving led the Cavs through a successful play-off run to win the 2016 NBA championship, the first for the franchise.