Ron Harper didn’t choose words when talking about “The Shot.” His version of events is that he [Harper] asked coach Wilkins to put him on Jordan for the last possession, but Wilkins went with Ehlo. Harper made his feelings known with a “Yeah, OK, whatever, f— this bullshit.”, and Jordan made one of the most iconic shots in his career.
Next to Horace Grant calling the Pistons “bitc****,” Harper’s recreation of the time-out was one of the most talked-about moments from episodes three and four. That came as a surprise to his former teammate Craig Ehlo who had a slightly different memory of Harper’s defensive commitment in his Cleveland days.
As Ehlo explains it, Harper was their main offensive threat. When the two were on the court together, Ehlo would defend the opposing team’s best player so that Harper could rest a bit on defense. Ehlo being the defensive specialist, it was logical for him to be on MJ for the final possession.
“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.”
Craig Ehlo, Cleveland.com
Our own Murray A. wrote a great piece about Harper’s career and the parallel universe in which he guards MJ. To sum it up, Harper would probably do a better job contesting Jordan’s shot due to his physical abilities and the fact Ehlo was significantly hurt in the game.
Ehlo may have a point about Harper resting on defense during the game, this was the final possession. No more game to play in, so no need to rest him for hypothetical offensive possessions. In the end, MJ himself said (with a grin) it was a mistake, and Harper played him better.
While we may lean with Harper on the final possession, his reaction doesn’t seem to be entirely out of character. Ehlo said other Cavs from that team would probably shrug their shoulders and just say, “that’s Harp.” Let’s be real - Ehlo or Harper, we’d all put money on MJ making the shot either way.