The myth that perpetuates Craig Ehlo is one that should have ended in the Last Dance documentary but wasn’t and instead given new life by Ron Harper.
The only former Cavalier who blames Craig Ehlo for “The Shot” is Ron Harper, apparently. During this past weeks airing of The Last Dance documentary on ESPN, Ron Harper, (and Michael Jordan) came out critical of former Cleveland Cavaliers guard Craig Ehlo. It’s a legacy Ehlo is familiar with in Cleveland, as he was the man who played defense on Jordan throughout much of their playoff series in 1989. Yet, with all that ignored, former Cavalier and Bulls’ guard Harper took Ehlo to task, criticizing him for his defense and claiming to tell then-head coach Lenny Wilkens that he wanted to guard Jordan just before the final shot attempt.
"“We’re up by one,” Harper said. “I said, coach, I got MJ. I got MJ. So the coach tells me I’m gonna put Ehlo on MJ. I’m like yeah, OK. Whatever. F— this bulls—.”"
Yet, that’s not how anyone else remembers it. Ask around, or better yet, let the words of Mark Price be the one to tell you, courtesy of Cleveland.com
"“That was pretty interesting,” Price said. “That caught me a little off guard. I didn’t know Ron had such strong feelings about that because I didn’t really remember all that. …“Whoever (Lenny) picked, it wasn’t really a major factor as far as I was concerned. I thought overall it was a contested shot, it was good effort.”"
Mark Price is in the top three players to ever play for the Cavaliers, his word has weight. So does Larry Nance Sr. In the same article, it’s mentioned that a few years back Nance took part in a discussion and defending Ehlo. He even went so far as to taking responsibility for the reason the shot happened in the first place.
"“The breakdown came from when he faked me to half court and if I could have just let him go and get the ball there, we probably would have been fine,” Nance admitted years later, during a sit-down alongside Ehlo, Wilkens, Mark Price and Brad Daugherty. “But that’s not what happened. He made a big, big shot. (Ehlo) took the blame for it every year.”"
Ehlo also commented on the documentary to Cleveland.com, saying;
"“…When I came in it was a no-brainer that I would guard Jordan so Harp could rest on defense and play on offense.“Harp had never really talked about defense or guarding people. He wasn’t a bad defender, I will give him that much, but I think those years with the Bulls where he got those championships, he was definitely third or fourth fiddle, so all of a sudden he becomes this lockdown defender, apparently. I don’t really remember him during our time wanting to play defense that much. He kind of shocked me with those comments, saying he wanted to guard Michael.”"
When Nance, Price, and Ehlo all remember things differently than Harper, it’s time to admit Harper isn’t that aware of his surroundings. The saddest thing about this is how petty it makes Harper. This was just an opportunity for him to dig in on Ehlo and put himself over. Why? Everyone with half a brain cell would tell you that Ehlo did everything he could do to Jordan besides taking a crowbar to his knee.
At a certain point, you have to let things go and Harper doesn’t seem to be a man capable of letting things go or understanding complex situations. Like how inbounding in basketball works, or what The Onion is. Yet, Ehlo remains a tragic sports hero in Cleveland, forced to endure yearly tantrums from fans who don’t understand the concept of sports.
The saddest thing is that the shot wouldn’t have mattered without Ehlo leading the team in scoring (24 points) in that game. Something often ignored. Without him, the team loses by 25. The iconic Brad Daughtery was a non-factor in that game and besides Ehlo, no one on the bench scored a point. This game says nothing about Ehlo, who did everything right on both sides of the court.
What it says is everything about Jordan who was unguardable in that final shot.