The Shot

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Michael Jordan of the Chicago Bulls (pictured in 1988), who made the eponymous game-winning shot against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 1989 NBA Playoffs

The Shot was a basketball play that occurred during a 1989 playoff game between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). It took place during the deciding Game 5 of the Eastern Conference First Round series on May 7, 1989, at Richfield Coliseum in Richfield Township, Ohio.[1] With the best-of-five series tied at two games apiece and the Cavaliers leading the game by one point with three seconds left, Bulls player Michael Jordan received an inbound pass and made a buzzer-beater shot to give the Bulls a 101–100 win and clinch a series victory. The play capped off a final minute in which there were six lead changes. Jordan finished the game with 44 points. The Shot is considered to be one of his greatest clutch moments, and the game itself is regarded as a classic.[1]

The Cavaliers swept the regular season games 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 the second-best record 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, was good enough for the sixth playoff seed in the conference. Given both these factors, the Bulls' playoff victory was considered a major upset. In retrospect, it symbolized the beginning of a dynasty of 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 play[edit]

Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference First Round
1234 Total
Chicago Bulls 24222332 101
Cleveland Cavaliers 28202725 100
DateMay 7, 1989
VenueRichfield Coliseum, Richfield Township, Ohio
RefereesHugh Evans, Jack Madden, Jake O'Donnell

Michael Jordan made a jump shot with 6 seconds left to give the Bulls a 99–98 lead. After Cleveland called a timeout, Craig Ehlo inbounded the ball to Larry 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 first moved to his right, pushing Nance away, then cut left to get open and receive the inbound pass from Brad Sellers. Drifting to his left, Jordan made a jump shot at the foul line over the defending Ehlo as time expired, giving the Bulls a 101–100 victory.

Jim Durham and Johnny Kerr were calling the game on the Bulls' Radio Network and narrated the play:

Durham: The inbounds pass comes in to Jordan. Here's Michael at the foul line, the shot on Ehlo... (overlapping Kerr) GOOD! Bulls win!
Durham: 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!

Lasting image[edit]

The lasting image of the moment is Jordan's wild, emphatic celebration: a leap into the air as Ehlo fell 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 head coach Doug Collins, who ran around Bulls assistant coach Phil Jackson and into the arms of his team.

Jordan's leap was recreated for the 2006 television commercial "Second Generation".[3]

The other calls[edit]

Dick Stockton's call on CBS[edit]

Sellers has Jordan. Jordan with 2 seconds to go, puts it up and scores! 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[edit]

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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Jordan Hits "The Shot"". NBA. Archived from the original on August 12, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2007.
  2. ^ "Chicago Bulls at Cleveland Cavaliers Box Score, May 7, 1989". Archived from the original on November 1, 2019. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  3. ^ Rovell, Darren (March 2, 2006), "The Jumpman in us all", Page 2, ESPN, archived from the original on October 10, 2012, retrieved November 5, 2011

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