|Monday, February 17
The poster child for being posterized
Before there was Bryon Russell, there was Craig Ehlo.
Perhaps no matter what Russell accomplishes during his NBA career, the Utah Jazz guard will be remembered for being burned by Michael Jordan for the game-winning shot that lifted the Bulls to victory in Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, and their sixth NBA title in eight years. But if there is a poster child for players burned by Jordan over the years, Ehlo is it.
A veteran of 14 NBA seasons, Ehlo won two championships with the Houston Rockets. However, he is best remembered, while playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, for his flailing attempt to strip the ball from Jordan in the final seconds of the Game 5 of the 1989 Eastern Conference playoffs first round. Ehlo missed the ball, but Jordan didn't miss the series-clinching 15-footer at the buzzer, better known as "The Shot."
At the request of ESPN.com, Ehlo has agreed to share his most memorable Jordan story:
After turning in disbelief to the official, I promptly began to argue the call and, in doing so, received a technical too. All the while we didn't notice but on the end of the court Mike was lying on the court clutching his knee and wailing in pain.
The old Chicago Stadium grew hush and no one was saying anything. Then the 17,000 plus stadium began to chant "Ehlo sucks! Ehlo sucks!"
Mike laid there for what seemed an eternity -- more like 40 minutes -- got up and hobbled to the line and knocked down the free throw and continued to play the game.
This was the first of two games in Chicago so we were staying overnight. At the advice of my coaches and Chicago officials, I was escorted to my room and asked not to leave it and not to answer the door or the phone. This was very hard for me since I listed Chicago as one of my favorite cities to play in and visit.
To my relief nothing happened that night, and the next day the headlines in the Chicago Tribune read "Michael absolves Ehlo." Michael had cleared me of any wrongdoing and said that I had nothing to do with his injury. It was from his own clumsiness. Just kidding.
Now I can say that I have been absolved by the best there is. So I would like to thank Michael for absolving me, which allowed me to enjoy my favorite city.
One more thing, start acting your age and leave those young men alone.
After three seasons of coaching high school basketball in Spokane, Wash., Craig Ehlo is now a sideline reporter for televised Gonzaga University basketball games