Twenty Years After Craig Ehlo, The King Picks Up Cleveland

SB ReportCorrespondent IIMay 23, 2009

It was 20 years ago this month that Michael Jordan's shot at the buzzer over Craig Ehlo sent Cavs fans into a funk that would last nearly a generation. 

In fact, Cleveland sports has been one of the most disappointing stories this side of Wrigley Field.

There is hardly a Jordan highlight reel that doesn't force Cavs fans to relive May 7, 1989. 

Not only that, game one of this series saw Rashard Lewis knock down Cleveland once again with a last second three pointer to steal game one. Cleveland once again seemed to be the stage for two more rising stars to make their name: Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis.

Yesterday, LeBron James picked up Cleveland from game one and all but erased the memories of Craig Ehlo folding over on the floor in defeat.

The shots were eerily similar. Both the Bulls and the Cavs were losing and down to their last prayer. Every player wants to take the final shot with the score tied, but it takes a special player to hit when their team is down.

I'm not talking about just down in this game. Dropping two games at home to begin a series against a team that beat you twice in three tries during their season would be devastating. Only some Red Sox magic could bounce back from that hole.


Looking at the replays, both Jordan and James were moving to their left—ever so slightly in LeBron's case. Moving against your shooting arm is one of the toughest shots in basketball, but not only was LeBron moving slightly to his left, he was moving away from the basket beyond the three-point line.

Like "The Shot" 20 years ago, James rattled the ball through the basket almost exactly the way Jordan did.

The difference this time was response from 20,000 fans. If you listen carefully you can hear the crickets chirping after Jordan's shot in 1989. Twelve players and five coaches were jumping around, but the fans were left speechless.

This time Quicken Loans Arena looked like it was experiencing an earthquake. It was more than one game. It was 20 years of games the fans were celebrating.

The Cavs made the finals in 2007, but everyone knew they had no chance. The Spurs mopped the floor with the young "King" and finished the series in four games.

This year Cleveland knows it can win it all.

Without the 2009 "Shot" the Cleveland ship would have likely been sunk.

It was true last night and will be true for the rest of the playoffs: The Cavs need all the King's horses and all the King's men, but only LeBron can put Cleveland back together again.