One night in Cleveland 30 years ago, Michael Jordan rested his hands on his knees and tried to catch his breath. There was three seconds left on the clock and the Bulls were down one, enough time left for one shot, one crack at the next round of the playoffs. Jordan had already poured in 42 points, yet Cleveland still clung to a lead with one possession left to go.

Craig Ehlo and Larry Nance shadowed Jordan’s every move as he tried to wriggle free and catch the inbound pass. Nance wouldn’t even turn around and look at the inbounder. They knew where the ball was going. Anyone else could catch the ball and attempt the game-winner, carve their name into the history books. They could live with that. Anyone but Jordan.

There was a quick stutter step to the right that sent Nance leaning just a smidge, opening a gap for Jordan to receive the inbounds. He caught it and turned towards the free-throw line all in one stride, sensing the impending doom of the ticking clock. One dribble. Nance never recovered in time. Two dribbles. Ehlo still stood in his way. He rose up and Ehlo met him at the summit.

But suddenly as Ehlo rose up, Jordan stopped. Everyone knew Jordan could fly. He soared in the dunk contest from the free-throw line and rocked the basketball under his arm before throwing down a thunderous dunk with the ease of an autumn breeze. He dunked over Patrick Ewing so many times it felt routine. Jordan was flying since he first wore his banned Air Jordan Is his rookie season and took the world by storm. But here he was with the game on the line and a nemesis defending his last gasp attempt. And he just...hung there.

Watching the YouTube clip now almost feels like it’s being replayed in slow motion. Mid-air, Jordan double-clutches, pausing his jump shot as Ehlo flew right past him. By the time Jordan releases the ball, now with a clear view of the basket, Ehlo is nearly out of the frame entirely. He summoned every ounce of strength and energy to contest one last shot, to prevent an inevitable heartbreak. Jordan hits the shot, the Chicago Bulls go to the next round, and the thousands of screaming fans in Cleveland stand there in stunned silence. Jordan lands from one of his signature pursuits of flight in a pair of Black Air Jordan IVs. He jumps and pumps his fist before being mobbed by teammates, and one of his iconic moments, “The Shot,” is born, and the Air Jordan IV is engrained in sports lore for the next three decades.

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