Michael Jordan hits ‘The Shot’ over Craig Ehlo: What ‘The Last Dance’ doesn’t say about iconic Bulls moment

In the third episode of The Last Dance, Michael Jordan colorfully explains what happened in his head after The Shot, when he jumped, shouted and punched in the air, and Craig Elo crashed to the floor.

“Get out of here,” Jordan says. “Go anywhere, but you're from here. Whoever is with us, all of you are going to hell. ”


All these years later, it's exciting to see Jordan returning there. On May 7, 1989, he was not yet a champion, and his every fist fight in Cleveland was provoked by contempt for those who did not believe that he would become one. It was only his second victory in the playoff series, but he and Doug Collins, the then coach Chicago bullsLet's say it pushed the team to greatness.

“We began to overcome the hump of the loser mentality,” says Jordan. “We were starting to become a winning franchise. And the sky was the limit. "


An ESPN / Netflix documentary that uses the 1997-98 season. As a starting point for telling a wider story about Jordan and the Bulls, spends more than five minutes setting up and lighting the three seconds that rocked the Richfield Coliseum and chased Ohio for a decade. Here is what he does and does not tell you about one of the most significant moments in the history of sports:

The bulls were David, not Goliath

Cleveland Cavaliers were heavy favorites in the series. The bulls won 47 games, and the Cleveland won 55, and the Caves won all six meetings in the regular season.


“In our opinion, we have nothing to lose,” Jordan says in The Last Dance.

More context: the last of these matches was on the last day of the regular season. The Cavs won 90-84 at the Chicago stadium, without injured Mark Price, Larry Nance and Brad Dougherty.


“We couldn't even defeat their submarines,” Jordan said through Chicago sun-timesadding that the “bulls” “will certainly be noticed” if they do not play better in the postseason. The headline of the story read: "Bulls resemble corpses in sad loss for gentlemen."

Chicago made it to the playoffs after losing eight of its last 10 games, but stole game 1 away from behind 31 points and 11 assists from Jordan. The Bulls had the opportunity to advance in Game 4, but as mentioned in the documentary, Jordan missed a free throw in the fourth quarter and they lost in overtime.

The document does not mention that Jordan called who missed the “My Second Worst Basketball” free throw for failing to make his student team a sophomore in high school, through Sun times, Nor does it mention that according to Chicago TribuneJesse Jackson "stuck his head in the shower" after losing and offered words of encouragement to Jordan: forget about it and concentrate on the next game.


“I’ve never been encouraged by a presidential candidate before,” Jordan said in a gaming story that went to Tribune the morning after the Shot.

Before game 5, Jordan turned to Lacey Banks Sun times Kent McDill from Chicago herald and Sam Smith from Tribunewho chose the Cavs to win the series in 3, 4 and 5 games respectively.

“We took care of you,” said Jordan Banks. “We took care of you,” he told McDill. Then he looked at Smith. "We will take care of you today."

Smith had shared this joke earlierbut he works great in The Last Dance because he sets up a post-game interview with Jordan on the court in which he educates the people who wrote him off and says that he feels justified.

It would also be worth telling the audience that Jordan had publicly predicted that Chicago would win the series in four games, adding another layer to his torment after a missed free throw.

“I deviated a little from my prediction, but we won,” Jordan said. Sun timesThe story of the game from Richfield.

That was the year Jordan played PG

Two-thirds of the 1988-89 season, “Bulls” tried something unusual: they moved the greatest defender in shooting Nba play the story. "Last Dance" is not included in this, but fortunately Dan Devine Ringera delved into it just last monthAs Devine explains, the rationale was not much different from what we heard from the coaches about Lebron james, Luca Doncic and James harden in recent years: give the brilliant, unprotected playmaker the ball more often, and your attack should be better.

Initially, this team revived the team. Jordan had 18 points and 15 assists in an easy victory in his first game at the moment, and Bulls won 11 of their first 14 games when Jordan led the show. His triple double lane of seven games remains legendary

After the late season of Chicago, however, Sun timesTerry Burs wrote a column entitled "Jordan at some point seems pointless." (In a column, Burs also argued that Horace Grant should play as a small striker, not a striker, but this is neither here nor there.)

In the Cavs series, Jordan scored an average of 39.8 points, 8.2 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 thefts. He had a utilization rate of 40.5 percent and a true shooting percentage of 59.8 percent, according to the Basketball Handbook. But when Chicago lost Detroit Pistons at the end of the conference, mainly because the Bad Boys was happy to let anyone but Jordan defeat them, that was the end of the experiment.

Later, a triangle offense would provide an ideal basis for Jordan's dominance, while retaining the participation of teammates. If Point Jordan had the advantage of modern distance, just imagine what damage it could cause.

Moments before

My favorite part of Episode 3 is the then Cavs guard Ron Harper, who talks about a timeout before the final game. Harper announced that he would cover Jordan. Cleveland coach Lenny Wilkens, however, decided to put Elo on him.

"And I, like," Yes, fine, whatever. F is bulls — ”Harper says.

You know what happens next. But The Last Dance also shows what preceded it: Jordan already hit the clutch jumper, pulling up over Larry Nance, which gave the Bulls a one-point lead with six seconds remaining. Cavs took the lead with Ehlo's downtime from a simple but flawless compromise.

It was here that Elo probably hoped he would get a little sparkle. This downtime gave him 15 points in the fourth quarter and 24 in the game. It was the best playoff performance of his entire career, even if everyone remembered only the subsequent play.

Instead, the focus of the documentary is on Wilkens' decision to go with Elo over Harper. Jordan calls it a mistake, since Harper was "the guy who played me better."

Jordan may be right, but it didn't really matter when these teams met in the playoffs of the previous season. Harper missed the first game of this series in which Jordan scored 50 against Elo. "Michael will never get 50 on me," Harper said, across Tribuneand then Jordan dropped 55 on him in game 2.

(Soon after it New York Times controlled feature Ira Berkov trying to explain Jordan’s aerial exploits. Phil Jackson, then assistant coach, suggested this theory: “Simple. Michael Jordan from another planet. " Ehlo, Wilkens and the head of the astronautics department at the Air Force Academy are also cited.)

The most unusual decision made by Wilkens in the crowd was not to go with Elo, but in Harper, but to hide the founder Brad Sellers. Wilkens wanted Nance to double Jordan's team because everyone assumed the ball was coming towards him. These are the words of Elo from "Cleveland Cavaliers: A History of Wine and Gold" by Vince Mackey:

Honestly, we did what we never did before. Coach Wilkens was one of those coaches that kept someone in sight, for some reason he decided to remove Nance from this assignment and called on the double team in Jordan. I think if I played alone with him, I would play him harder. But due to the fact that I got help, I could relax a bit. When Jordan knocked Larry from the first move, I ran to catch him, and by the time I arrived there, Jordan was already returning to the other side, so I flew through him like E.T. across the moon and headed straight for him.

"Retrospectively," Elo wrote in an essay 2018 on the Amico Hoops website“You say:“ Perhaps we should have a faster guy who guarded him. ” The two players he named were Harper and Price.

Ultimately, all this is the second assumption of ownership, which was well protected. Elo may have flown past Jordan, but his competition would have been good enough against anyone who could not stop a dime, climb a jumper, hang in the air until the defender descends and take the strongest blow of his career.

The more interesting crowd was different. From "Michael Jordan: Life" by Roland Lazenby:

Over the course of the timeout, Collins quickly developed a game for central Dave Basket to take the final hit, with logic that was not to be expected. Jordan reacted angrily to the clipboard and told his coach: “Just give me the ball!” Collins quickly came up with a new look, with Brad Sellers. As he walked across the floor, Jordan whispered to teammate Craig Hodges that he was about to shoot.

Ehlo also had words for Jordan: "Mr. Jordan, I can't let you score." Five years ago, Elo told New York TimesHarvey Araton that he might just have to call him Michael.

Moments after

Jordan's celebration was unforgettable, as was Shot itself, and he may have jumped even higher. That evening, however, he said it was “uncharacteristic for me” through Tribune“But they were on me all day. They shouted "choking" and said that I would take the time. "

He also immediately called it “my most memorable shot in history.” It would have been easy for almost any other player, but seven years ago he made a victorious blow in the game of the NCAA National Championship.

The as depicted then Bulls CEO Jerry Krause in The Last Dance, it is surprising that his reaction was not shown. Krause’s first thought was not even about the “Shot”, but about the passage that led to it.

“It was the best pass I've ever seen in basketball,” he said in 2011, according to Lazenby. “He got this pass between the three guys, really tucked the needle. I ran across the floor and hugged Brad Sellers. ”

Krause prepared the Sellers project in 1986, although Jordan called on the team to choose Johnny Dawkins, one of the many sources of tension between them.

Also relevant behind Sports Illustrated Jack McCallum featureThe year before Shot, when rookie Scotty Pippen helped Jordan Bulls win his first big-play playoff series at the start of his professional career, Krause was in the locker room and shouted, “One-man team, right? Never! No way, this is a one-man team! "


The Cavs series was when the Bulls began to wear black shoes in the playoffs. Then no one did it. A couple of months before the start of the season, Sellers had an idea when Pippen went into the locker room with black shoes.

“So, I said that let's all try to get black shoes for the playoffs,” Sellers said. Sun times, “And everyone thought it was a good idea. We needed to color five pairs on Wednesday evening so we all could wear black. ”

According to the then Bulls Center Will Purdue, the dye had some problems.

“The game was over, you would go to take off your shoes, and your socks would be completely black, and then you would turn black in all shape” Perdue said on NBC Sports Chicago Bulls Talk podcast in 2018,

No one would dare say that Jordan's jumper would have missed if he was wearing different shoes, but perhaps the shoes had something to do with the fact that he was in this position. At least that is what Elo thinks.

“It gave them this special skill,” Elo said through Mackey. “Not that Michael needed extra help, but his teammates seemed to play better.”

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