Michael Jordan’s shot over Ehlo was fueled by Bulls reporters doubting him

Rob Schaefer
NBC Sports Chicago

Michael Jordan has spent his entire life proving people wrong. It fuels him.

So it should come as no surprise that one of the most iconic moments of his playing career is bolstered by a backstory of people doubting him. 

Episode 3 of "The Last Dance" offers an inside account of invisible tensions between Jordan and local Chicago media members in the buildup to him hitting "The Shot" (Part 1) over Craig Ehlo in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference first round series against the Cleveland Cavaliers

"So game's (Game 5) about to start and there were two other beat writers. Beat writer from the Sun-Times, Lacy Banks. And Kent McDill from the (Daily) Herald, and me," said Sam Smith, then a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, in the documentary. "Lacy has picked the Cavs to sweep in three. Kent has picked the Cavs to win in four. And I had picked the Cavs to win in five.

"Game's just about to start. And Michael walks over to Lacy and points to him and says, ‘We took care of you.' Then he Looks at Kent and says, ‘We took care of you.' And he looks at me and says, ‘We take care of you today.'"

The rest is history. Jordan scored 44 points in the game (he finished the series averaging 39.8 points), the last of which came on a gravity-defying jumper that clinched it for the underdog, sixth-seeded Bulls - who lost all six regular season matchups with Cleveland - at the buzzer.

 

Ehlo's name is forever etched into Bulls lore. But ask Jordan and then-Cavalier Ron Harper, and he should have never been defending Jordan in the first place.

"They had Craig Ehlo on me at the time, which, in all honesty, was a mistake," Jordan said in the documentary. "Because the guy that played me better was Ron Harper."

"We up by one. I said, ‘Coach, I got MJ. I got MJ,'" Harper said in a present-day interview. "So the coach tells me, 'I'm going to put Ehlo on MJ.' And I'm like, ‘Yeah, OK, whatever. F**k this bulls**t.'"

F this BS, indeed. Harper eventually won three titles during the Bulls' second three-peat in a complementary role as the team's starting point guard. Ehlo is still best known for "The Shot."

The Bulls went on to fall to the Bad Boy Pistons in the 1989 Eastern Conference finals in six games, which was also detailed in Episode 3. But Jordan was just getting started.

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Michael Jordans shot over Ehlo was fueled by Bulls reporters doubting him originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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