That dynamic was on full display during ESPN’s airing of The Last Dance, the documentary that chronicled the Chicago Bulls’ last season of their epic dynasty that headlined the NBA throughout the 1990s.
The documentary also zeroed in on Michael Jordan’s dislike for Thomas following the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.
After three consecutive seasons of the Pistons eliminating the Bulls from the playoffs, which including two exits in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bulls swept Thomas’ Pistons, the two-time defending NBA Champions in 1991.
The theatrics in the Bulls’ victory has been played over and over again.
For those keeping score at home: Before the final seconds had ticked off the clock, most of the Pistons squad, including Thomas, walked off the court in front of the Bulls bench and avoided any post-game congratulatory handshakes.
That then led to speculation that Michael Jordan had his hand in destroying Thomas’ chances at making the 1992 USA Basketball Dream Team with NBA contemporaries like Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, Karl Malone, John Stockton, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing and many others on that team.
On the Last Dance, Jordan refuted it stating: “I respect Isiah Thomas’ talent. To me, the best point guard of all-time is Magic Johnson and right behind him is Isiah Thomas. No matter how much I hate him, I respect his game. Now, it was insinuated that I was asking about him; but I never threw his name in there.”
Appearing on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show, I asked Isiah Thomas if a company offered a blank check to he and Jordan for the opportunity to discuss their differences in exchange for an hour-long uninterrupted television special for them to air out their grievances, how much would the check amount to? “Well I don’t need the check; that’s not what I’m about,” Thomas stated.
“So you wouldn’t have to pay me anything. And honestly until ‘The Last Dance’, I never knew there was a beef. You know again, I had gone out to dinner with him, I had seen him socially… I never knew that he felt THAT way about me. So again, I have no hard feelings against anyone and when I talk about the greatest players, I’m only talking about it from my perspective. No slight to anyone but, it’s just an acknowledgement of how great LeBron James is and what I’ve been watching. It’s just like the acknowledgement of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Now if people think that I’m trying to slight somebody by talking about these two, then they have an agenda of their own, not necessarily mine. So, but anyway what would we talk about?… I don’t know but… Hey look, I’m not afraid of anybody. I’ll sit down and speak with anybody and anybody who’s ever been around me, seen me, been close to me…I’m not one who walks around with fear and I’m not one who walks around with hate. So you know, like I said; I never knew that he felt that way until I watched the ‘Last Dance’.”