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Undoubtedly, the 1986 NBA Draft that brought the Cavaliers Brad Daugherty, Ron Harper and Mark Price
brought a youthful injection of much-needed talent and skilled players to an evolving franchise. The acquisition of
the three college stars instantly made the Cavaliers good.
But perhaps it was the final acquisition of power forward Larry Nance that made the Cavaliers go from good
to great and led to the most successful era in team history. On Feb. 25, 1988, Cleveland sent Kevin Johnson,
Mark West, Tyrone Corbin, a first-round draft choice in 1988 and two second-round picks to Phoenix in exchange
for Nance, Mike Sanders and Detroit’s first round pick in 1988.
Known as “Leapin’ Larry” for the dunking prowess that made him the first-ever Slam Dunk Champion in 1984
and his strong shot-blocking skills, Nance brought his high-flying, power game and six years of experience to a
team in desperate need of a veteran.
Nance filled that void remarkably, helping the Cavaliers win 11 of their final 13 games that season and make
The following season in many respects served as the greatest in franchise history as the Cavaliers won a
franchise-best 57 games (which was later tied by the 1991-92 team that Nance also starred on) and went 37-4 at
home. Nance was named an NBA All-Star for the first of two times in 1989 and was joined on the squad by
Daugherty, Price and head coach Lenny Wilkens.
Spearheaded by the trio of Nance, Daugherty and Price, the Cavaliers made the playoffs in each season the group played together besides 1990-91,
where Price was limited to just 16 games after tearing his ACL.
A tenacious defender, Nance is the only player in franchise history to be named to the All-Defensive First Team (1988-89) and the only Cavalier to make
the team three times (1988-89, 91-92 and 92-93).
He ranks among the Cavaliers All-Time leaders in blocked shots (2nd), field goal percentage (2nd), rebounds (4th), field goals made and attempted (6th),
minutes played (7th) and free throws made (7th) and attempted (8th).
Nance was named to the Cavaliers’ All-Time Starting Five by 32 members of the Northeast Ohio media during the Cavaliers 30th Anniversary season.
The Cavaliers retired his jersey on Jan. 30, 1995.