The Bulls were so young, future stars Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant were coming off the bench. And the Cavs? They had John Williams, Craig Ehlo and Dell Curry coming off their bench. These were two good teams who indeed would be battling it out in the playoffs for several years. This was not Michael Jordan’s “Shot” in Game 5 of the 1989 playoffs. It wasn’t a playoff game at all. It was just a March night in the NBA from decades ago at my favorite place to watch a game. The Richfield Coliseum.
The Cavaliers were the worst team in the NBA with a 3-19 record on Dec. 15, 1982. Even worse, they were probably the most boring team to watch. Then came World B. Free. “I remember when I got to the Cleveland airport right after the trade,” Free told me in 1986. “The people looked tired. I said I was going to pump some life into this place. ‘What Cleveland needed was World B. shakin’, bakin’, stoppin’ and poppin’.”
Someone once said, “You know you’ve reached a certain age when you remember a sports venue being built, and then see the same building torn down.” I think of that when driving down Route 303 in Richfield, at the exit off Interstate 271. Now, there is nothing but a field bumping up against some nearby farms and barns. But once upon a time, a great arena rose up among the trees and squirrels and deer and prairie grass …
The day Cleveland came back, I was sitting in my bathrobe sucking on some coffee and trying to wake up. Then the telephone rang. “We are calling from National Public Radio’s ‘Morning Edition’ program,” a nice young man from the East said. “We wonder if you will let us interview you. Cleveland has come back, you know.” “I know,” I told him. “I read it in USA Today. They had a front-page story saying we were back, so we must be back.” The young man assured me that we were. “The only trouble is, I’m not sure I’m the right person to interview about it,” I said. “I don’t feel as if I’ve ever been away. I’ve been here all the time.”