The Cavs made their appearance in ‘The Last Dance’, ESPN’s documentary series about the Michael Jordan Bulls, last week when Jordan’s 1989 playoff game winner against the Cavs was featured prominently. In it, former Cavs guard Ron Harper — the only member of the team featured — said that he “got MJ.” Of course, he didn’t guard Jordan with Craig Ehlo getting the assignment and, well, you know the rest.
“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---.”
Ron Harper on the Cavs going with Craig Ehlo to guard Michael Jordan on The Shot in 1989: "I'm like, yeah, okay. Whatever. Fuck this bullshit." #TheLastDance pic.twitter.com/0f4TIBLzcD— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) April 27, 2020
That’s not exactly how Ehlo and Mark Price remember it, though.
“I never said I was a Jordan stopper like Gerald Wilkins or anything,” Ehlo told cleveland.com this week. “But back then Harp and me were on the court at the same time and he was our big offensive threat. So, 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.”
“That was pretty interesting,” Price told cleveland.com. “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. Maybe it’s because we were in the midst of everything or maybe that was something where Ron had talked to [head coach] Lenny [Wilkens] on the side or before. I didn’t ever really recall that situation being a big deal at the time when the game was going on. I just remember Lenny kind of telling us what we were going to do and then going out and trying to do it. Obviously it’s something that had bothered Ron.”
The whole piece, penned by the great Terry Pluto, is worth a read. It’s clear that there’s some disconnect there and it’s hard not to feel for Ehlo considering all of the flack he’s taken for that play over the year. Harper, of course, would go on to play with Jordan in Chicago and ended up winning five NBA titles.