The new Michael Jordan docuseries, The Last Dance, has captivated fans for the past couple of weeks as it shows the superstar’s career with the Chicago Bulls, and the build-up to their last title run in 1998. However, what has got people talking the most this week is the last two episodes’ focus on the rivalry Jordan and his Bulls had with the Detroit Pistons from 1988 to 1991.
During that time, the Pistons were known as the “Bad Boys”, a group of aggressive, rough, and mean players who didn’t care who they had to run through to get to the hoop. They were bullies, and they lived up to that moniker in how they played against Jordan, as in they literally beat him up on the court.
The Pistons beat the Bulls out of the playoffs two years in a row, on their way to winning the championship both years. And the way they stopped the Bulls, was by not letting Jordan do anything at all. In fact, they had their own set of the “Jordan Rules”, which told how they would stop him from scoring.
It culminated in the Bulls coming back in ’91 with a vengeance, being bigger and wanting to beat the team that had bullied them for two years. The result was they swept the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals, going on to win the first of six championships to come.
When they beat the Pistons, the Pistons team decided they wouldn’t shake the Bulls’ hands, choosing to walk off the court before the game clock had even expired.
In the episode, Isiah Thomas, who played for the Pistons on that team, expressed that that was just how it went back then, how that was done to them by the Celtics before and so they did it then.
Jordan wasn’t having any of that.
“You can show me anything you want. It’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t an a**hole,” he told the camera crew.
Their anger went beyond just those playoff series as well, as Thomas was believed to have led a freeze-out of the rising Jordan. From there, it just grew and grew.
It perfectly sums up the animosity that still exists between the players on both teams. Jordan still carries that grudge against the Pistons, and especially Thomas.
Thomas to took to ESPN’s Get Up this morning to discuss the episode:
“In terms of how we felt at that particular time as champions, we were coming down, Michael Jordan was coming up. And in coming up, you have certain emotions. And in coming down as champions, you have certain emotions. And I’ve said this a many of times: Looking back over the years, had we had the opportunity to do it all over again, I think all of us would make a different decision. Now, me, myself, personally, I paid a heavy price for that decision.”
The price he paid for was not being selected to be on the 1992 Dream Team for the Olympics, a decision that was made at the behest of Jordan.
With the series’ episodes next week diving into the Dream Team, we are sure to get some more information about how Thomas was left out of the roster and what part Jordan played in it.
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