The Catch (the Willie Mays version), The Drive, The Fumble, The Streak (the Cavs version), The Move and The Decision. What do all of these significant sports moments have in common? Unfortunately, the drama all stems from one city, and not in a positive way. Cleveland is one of few cities who have all three major sports (NFL, NBA, MLB). They have also experienced heartache in each of those respective sports. On May 7, 1989, another brutal bullet point was added to the dreadful resume as Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls squared off against the Cleveland Cavaliers in a decisive Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round series.
The Cavs were one of the league’s best young teams in the late 80’s, which included a solid nucleus of Brad Daugherty, Mark Price, pre-knee injury Ron Harper, the high-flying Larry Nance, and John “Hot Rod” Williams. This collection of firepower was also under the tutelage of then-future Hall of Fame coach Lenny Wilkins, who helped the team improve by 15 games in the win column while also giving the look as if they were set to challenge for an NBA title.
To achieve the high bar that was set, the Cavaliers had to start with taking down a hungry Michael Jordan and a Chicago squad that was just beginning to gel at the right time. The Bulls were confident going in as they had defeated Cleveland in a five-game playoff series just a season ago. They would steal home-court advantage by winning the opener in Cleveland, which was key as they had the opportunity to close the series at home in Game 4. However, the Cavs proved to be resilient, rallying for a 108-105 overtime win to set the stage for a deciding game back in the friendly confines of the Richfield Coliseum.
The game would come down to the final seconds, and as he would on so many different occasions, Jordan would have the ball in his hands with the game on the line. Craig Ehlo, one of Cleveland’s top defenders, was set to guard Michael. What happened next can only be described as epic, and an audio clip that many recall from legendary Bulls announcer Jim Durham:
“The inbounds pass comes in to Jordan. Here's Michael at the foul line, the shot on Ehlo...GOOD! THE BULLS WIN IT! THEY WIN IT! They upset the Cleveland Cavaliers! Michael Jordan hits it at the foul line! 101–100! 20,273 in stunned silence here in the Coliseum. Michael Jordan with 44 points in a game hit the shot over Craig Ehlo. What tremendous heroics we have had in Game 5. From both teams, what a spectacular series this has been. In my days in the NBA, 16 years, this is the greatest series I've ever seen!”
The lasting image of this moment is Michael’s emphatic celebration as he leaped high in the air as Ehlo crumpled to the ground in despair. The moment is now forever known as “The Shot.” One of the most memorable moments in NBA history, as well as another dagger in the hearts of Cleveland fans.
Rare Footage of The Shot. (Different Angle)