September 12, 2013 in City

Craig Ehlo, former NBA star, pleads guilty to reckless burning

By The Spokesman-Review

(Full-size photo)

Retired NBA star Craig Ehlo, who most recently helped coach Eastern Washington University’s basketball team, received a suspended one-year jail sentence Wednesday after pleading guilty to setting fire to a pile of clothes outside his rural Spokane home.

After a family fight on Aug. 1, Ehlo doused some clothes with gasoline and started a fire, according to court records. Family members then held him to the ground to prevent him from jumping onto the fire until sheriff’s deputies arrested him.

Ehlo’s guilty plea to second-degree reckless burning, a gross misdemeanor, avoided felony charges. The plea deal was worked out between prosecutor John Love and defense attorney Dennis Thompson.

Ehlo admitted to past problems with substance abuse in court documents. He received medical treatment in Massachusetts following his arrest.

In a year, Ehlo may petition the judge to have the reckless burning conviction removed from his record if he doesn’t commit another crime.

Ehlo won fame for his spirited guard play for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

He spent 14 years in the NBA, drafted out of Washington State University by the Houston Rockets. He played in the 1986 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics. He later guarded Michael Jordan in the first round of the 1989 playoffs when the superstar hit what’s referred to as “The Shot” to catapult the Chicago Bulls over Ehlo’s Cavaliers.

After retiring following a 1997 season with the Seattle SuperSonics, Ehlo moved to Spokane, where he coached the Rogers High School boys basketball team. He later served as a broadcast analyst for the SuperSonics and Gonzaga Bulldogs before joining the EWU Eagles as an assistant coach. He resigned from that position in July.

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