"There was a lot of things going on my first year," Price said. "I wasn't playing a lot of minutes. I had to adjust to the NBA. Plus, I was out a month after an appendectomy. After that, I wasn't in playing shape the rest of the season. It was a real struggle. But last season, I was healthy and things turned around."
Price improved his scoring average from 6.9 points in 1986-87 to 16 last season. Not coincidentally, his salary went from $175,000 to $1 million. "I can't go out thinking I have to prove I'm worth a million dollars," Price said. "I've played pretty well this season, but I only know one way to play. I can't change that, no matter what I'm paid."
--Could Wilkens, who reportedly lost his job in Seattle in 1985 because of a perceived inability to relate to a young team, handle this collection of NBA prodigies?
"Absolutely," Embry said. "Lenny's demeanor, meaning his patience and teaching abilities, is very compatible to coaching younger players. He's obviously proven he can coach. He's calm, but he can be firm. He has demonstrated the ability to establish discipline, too."
Thirty-one games into the season, the Cavaliers have answered every question and almost every challenge. But, perhaps a little surprised themselves, Cavalier players say they are not looking beyond tonight's meeting with the Lakers, who handed the Cavaliers only their second loss in the last 14 games.
"I don't think any of us thought we'd have the kind of record we have at this point," Price said. "It's a long season. Everybody knows we can't continue at this pace. But we're trying to be consistent. We still have Detroit and Atlanta to deal with during the season and eventually in the playoffs. Those teams will be tough to beat, since they've been there before. That's where we're trying to get to."
As good as the Cavaliers are now, the scary thought to the rest of the NBA has to be the possibility that they will get significantly better. After all, Daugherty is 23, Price and Harper are not yet 25 and Williams is 26.
"I think we can get better because of our youth," Embry said. "Even Larry (Nance) is just 29, and there still is growth to be had with our youth players."
Said Harper: "We're still trying to learn the game of basketball. We're definitely gonna get better."