The Shot is the name of the series-winning basket hit by Michael Jordan in Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Coliseum at Richfield. It is considered to be one of Jordan's greatest clutch moments, and in the game itself, a classic. The Cavaliers swept the season series against the Bulls 6–0, including a 90–84 victory in the final regular season game, in which they rested their four best players (Ron Harper, Mark Price, Brad Daugherty and Larry Nance).
Cleveland was the 3rd seed in the Eastern Conference and Chicago was the 6th. Cleveland had a 57–25 regular season record, tied with the Los Angeles Lakers for second-best in the league behind the Detroit Pistons. Chicago's regular season record that year was 47–35, which although it placed them fifth in their division, it was good enough for the sixth playoff seed in the conference. With both these factors, the Bulls' playoff victory was considered a major upset. In retrospect, it symbolized the beginning of a dynasty of Michael Jordan's Bulls. It was the first of many game-winning shots that Jordan made in his playoff career. In Game 4 of the 1993 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Jordan made another series-winning buzzer-beater on the same end of the court in the same building, to give the Bulls their 4th playoff series win over the Cavaliers, that time a 4-game sweep. The Shot is one of many dramatic sports moments to come at a Cleveland team's expense—Red Right 88, The Catch, The Drive, The Fumble, The Streak, The Decision, The Move and the Curse of Rocky Colavito.
Jordan hit a jumper with 6 seconds left to give the Bulls a 99–98 lead. After Cleveland took a timeout, Craig Ehlo inbounded the ball to Nance, who gave the ball back to Ehlo, who scored on a driving layup to give Cleveland a 100–99 lead with 3 seconds left. Chicago then called timeout. Jordan was double-teamed by Ehlo and Nance on the inbounds. Jordan bounced off Ehlo and pushed Nance out of the way to get open and receive the inbounds pass from Brad Sellers. Jim Durham was calling the game on the Bulls' Radio Network and narrated what happened next:
|“||The inbounds pass comes in to Jordan. Here's Michael at the foul line, the shot on Ehlo...GOOD! THE BULLS WIN IT! THEY WIN IT! They upset the Cleveland Cavaliers! Michael Jordan hits it at the foul line! 101–100! 20,273 in stunned silence here in the Coliseum. Michael Jordan with 44 points in a game hit the shot over Craig Ehlo. What tremendous heroics we have had in Game 5. From both teams, what a spectacular series this has been. In my days in the NBA, 16 years, this is the greatest series I've ever seen!||”|
The lasting image of the moment is Jordan's wild, emphatic celebration: a leap into the air as Ehlo crumpled to the ground in despair a short distance away. This scene has become part of many fans' recollection of The Shot, but it was not shown to viewers of the televised game (which was broadcast on CBS with Dick Stockton and Hubie Brown as well as sideline reporter James Brown calling the action). CBS never aired this replay during the game telecast, nor was Jordan's celebration caught by the sideline pressbox camera used for most game action. Instead, fans saw the celebration of Bulls coach Doug Collins, who had his arms in the air as he ran in a semicircle past future Bulls coach Phil Jackson and into the arms of his team.
Dick Stockton's call on CBS
|“||Sellers has Jordan. Jordan with 2 seconds to go, puts it up and score it! At the buzzer! Michael Jordan has won it for Chicago! Michael Jordan hit the basket at the buzzer as a disconsolate Lenny Wilkens leaves the floor. And for the second time today, the visiting team has won a deciding game in an opening round series. And the Chicago Bulls will move on to play the New York Knicks in a best-of-7.||”|
Joe Tait's call on Cavaliers Radio Network
|“||He looks. He looks. He gets to Jordan. Jordan to the circle, puts the shot in the air, GOOD! The game's over! And the Bulls have won. Jordan beat 'em at the buzzer with a jump shot in the circle and Chicago has knocked off the Cavs 101–100.||”|