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Michael Jordan’s ‘The Shot’ demands a deep rewind

“The Shot” could refer to one of two Michael Jordan shots, because that guy was pretty good at shots. One of them was the Finals-winning jumper that ended his Bulls career. Almost a decade before that was a legendary moment in Cleveland: the pull-up jumper over the Cavaliers’ Craig Ehlo, the leap and fist pump, etc. One of the first iconic images in any Jordan highlight, and a precursor of the clutch excellence and many championships to come.

But what came before the first “Shot”? What hinged on that moment? For one thing, MJ’s Bulls were in strange shape. The team depended entirely on Jordan, who clashed with coach Doug Collins at times, and even shifted to point guard during an ‘88-’89 season that would climax at this moment, then end with Collins getting fired.

The Cavs were even more compelling before Jordan broke their hearts. One of the league’s most embarrassing teams had picked itself up with remarkable speed. They built a dazzling young core literally overnight, then supplemented it with a star in Larry Nance and productive bench players like Craig Ehlo.

Speaking of which, Ehlo wasn’t just the guy defending MJ’s famous shot. He’s the guy whose legacy was hurt most by it. If Jordan’s buzzer-beater rimmed out, we’d all still remember Ehlo’s incredible fourth quarter preceding it, and maybe a Cavs’ dynasty instead of a team that fell apart too soon.

This episode of REWINDER includes all of the above and more. Check out more REWINDER episodes here.