While The Last Dance is nominally about the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, it also traces the history of its greatest players and the team during the Michael Jordan era.
In Episode 3, the focus is on the rivalry the Bulls had with the Bad Boys Pistons, but before they could face the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1989 they had to get by a very good Cleveland Cavaliers team. In Game 5 of that series, Jordan and Craig Ehlo traded shots to take the lead on the final three possessions, with Jordan hitting the game-winner in what would become known as “The Shot.”
Jordan and then Cavalier and future Bull Ron Harper discussed what they were thinking going into that final play, with both still rather stunned that Cavs coach Lenny Wilkens put Ehlo on Jordan for the final possession.
“They had Craig Ehlo on me at the time, which, in all honesty, was a mistake, because the guy that played me better was Ron Harper,” Jordan said.
Harper was a bit more salty about it.
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“We up by one, I said, ‘Coach, I got MJ, I got MJ,’” Harper said. “So the coach tells me, ‘I’ma put Ehlo on MJ,’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, ok, whatever, f*ck this bullsh*t.’”
Of course, Jordan hit the shot from the free throw line at the buzzer, a moment that launched his reputation as the most clutch player in the NBA. Now, there are plenty that will point out that Ehlo played perfectly fine defense and there’s no way to know if Harper would’ve played him better or kept him from hitting a tough game-winner, but Harper for sure wishes he knew.