CLEVELAND — Do you remember where you were on May 7, 1989?
I was 14-years old and on a family vacation in Dallas.
Jim Donovan had recently become engaged and told his fiance (now wife) that he could only stay at the couple's bridal shower for a few minutes because he had to work that Sunday afternoon down in Richfield.
The Cavaliers were playing host to the Bulls in Game 5 of their first round series at the old Coliseum. The Cavs had won 57 games that regular season and were heavy favorites to dispose of 'Da Bulls, despite the presence of Michael Jordan.
However, things didn't go according to plan. The teams split the first four games and now were facing off for the right to move on.
I loved those Cavaliers teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. My family lived in Strongsville, so it was an easy drive down Route 303 to get to Richfield. My Dad and I would go to about 15 or 20 games per season and we marveled over the pick-and-roll brilliance of Mark Price and Brad Daugherty, the power forward combo of Larry Nance and John "Hot Rod" Williams, and the explosiveness of Ron Harper.
Magic Johnson dubbed that core of talent as "The Team of the 90's" after the Cavs had upset the world champion Lakers during the previous season.
People forget that throughout that 1988-89 season, the Cavs flirted with the best record in the league. Price, Nance, and Daugherty were all selected to the NBA All-Star Game. The sky seemed the limit.
Then in one moment, everything changed.
On February 28th, the Cavs beat the Pistons 115-99 to take a five-game lead in the NBA's Central Division. They were 42-12 at that point.
But during the win, Price was the victim of a cheap shot elbow by Detroit bad-boy Rick Mahorn. He missed time due to a concussion and was never the same the rest of the season, shooting only 42% following the elbow.
Detroit surged ahead of the Cavs to win the division and grab the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland's consolation prize? A date with His Airness.
Game 5 on that May 7, 1989 was a never-ending flurry of excitement and anxiety as the Cavs and Bulls battled down to the very end. And with seconds to play, it looked like reserve guard Craig Ehlo was about to be the hero. His give-and-go layup with Larry Nance put the Cavs on top 100-99 with just three seconds left.
Three seconds too many, when Michael Jordan is your opponent.
In that instant, everything stopped.
In Richfield. In Northeast Ohio. In Dallas.
The Cavaliers were beaten. Jordan had a signature moment. Our hearts were broken.
Six months later, the Cavaliers made one of the worst trades in Cleveland sports history. Harper was dealt to the Los Angeles Clippers along with two first-round draft picks in exchange for the rights to Danny Ferry, along with Reggie Williams.
The trade badly damaged the team's chemistry.
Ferry's 10-year, $34 million dollar contract hamstrung the franchise for years. The loss of the draft picks prevented them from being able to replenish the roster with young talent.
The team of the 90's never even made it to the NBA Finals, losing to Jordan and the Bulls two more times in playoff series. By 1995, all of those core players were gone.
It's a sad tale. I've always said if I could ever make a 30-for-30 documentary on ESPN, it would be about that era in Cavs history.
Thankfully, there is another "The Shot" that we all should feel pretty good about.
Say what you want about Kyrie, but that highlight never gets old!
Watch the Donovan Live Postgame Show in the player above.