(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
1989's notorious "Michael Jordan shove" and subsequent "shot on Ehlo" has become one of the NBA
's signature highlights. It was the highlight that opened the NBC basketball broadcast for a decade in the 1990's. It was the shot that extended the sports curse that's plagued the city of Cleveland
for another 20 years.
May 8, 1989:
The Chicago Bulls
and Cleveland Cavaliers first round (best of 5 series) is tied 2-2. The game was tight, the lead changed back and forth until Cleveland scored to put them up by 1 point, with 3 seconds remaining. The Cleveland victory celebration had begun. They had forgot about Michael Jordan.
The Bulls called time out. Coach Doug Collins draws up a play for MJ.
Jordan receives the inbounds pass, pushes off his defender in classic style, and takes a jump shot.
Craig Ehlo nearly blocks the shot. MJ hangs in the air, for what seemed like five minutes, until Ehlo's feet hit the ground. "The shot" went in and the Bulls won the series 3-2.
The images of that play and Jordan's emotional celebration are deeply woven into the history of the NBA.
Michael hanging in the air over Craig Ehlo has become the snap shot that began the "Jordan Era of Dominance" an era that, until last night, only still existed in the city of Cleveland.
Thus began the "Era of his Air-ness"...
Fast Forward 20 Years:
Michael Jordan has retired and a "chosen one"
has been ordained to fill his Nike's.
The Cavaliers had risen from mediocrity to achieve the league's best record.
The Orlando Magic
shocked the Cleveland Cavaliers by overcoming a large deficit to win game one of the Eastern Conference Finals, at Quicken Loans Arena.
May 22, 2008:
LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers are faced with their first must win situation of the entire 2008-2009 season.
Leading the entire contest by double digits, the Cavs seemed to have had game two in hand.
Down by as many as 23 points, the Magic
again began a ferocious comeback.
Hedu Turkoglu's 12 footer with 1 second left gave the Magic a 95-93 lead. The Magic were in full celebration mode. They had taken a 2-0 series lead over the heavily favored Cavaliers on their court.
It seemed that all of the "photo shoots" and blowout "dance offs" by LeBron and his Cavaliers had finally caught up to them. There guard had been lowered and the Magic jumped all over them.
For the second straight game, the Cavaliers looked shocked and disoriented in the fourth quarter.
Cleveland's 45 year sports championship drought seemed to continue.
More disturbing was LeBron's travel with 48 seconds remaining. The traveling violation rated with such Cleveland sports mishaps as John Elway's fumble and the fabled "shot on Ehlo".
One second literally erased all of the infamous Cleveland sports mistakes. It was a shot that will be listed with some of the NBA's greatest, such as...
Garfield Heard's shot "heard round the world" vs the Celtics
in the 1976 NBA Finals
Larry Bird's shot over Magic at the Forum to tie the 1984 NBA Finals
Magic's baby hook over Bird, Parish and McHale to give the Lakers a 3-1 lead in the 1987 Finals
and, of course, Michael Jordan's - "The shot on Ehlo".
I have always felt that a current players should not be put into context with the past legends until that player has retired and his entire body of work can be reviewed.
LeBron's heroics last night, however, has had me re-thinking this philosophy.
During the Cavs final time out, I had sent out a mass text saying "The Magic take a 2-0 series lead over the Cavs at the Q".
Like the Orlando Magic, I thought the game was over.
As I hit the send button on my phone I watched LeBron's shot slowly sink into the basket as the buzzer sounded.
I quickly recanted my text with a follow up mass message reading,
"Nevermind - LeBron".
May 23, 2009:
Two words, "the shot".
For twenty years those two words have been associated with Michael Jordan's shot over Ehlo. That shot has never allowed the Michael Jordan Era to end in Cleveland.
Today "the shot" is now replaced with image of LeBron James' fading 23 footer over Hedu Turkoglu.
The "Jordan Era" has finally ended in Cleveland and the "Reign of King James" has officially begun.
"The Chosen One" has arrived and last night "we all were witnesses".