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Isiah Thomas 'didn't realize' how much Michael Jordan hated him

Jason Owens
·3-min read

One of basketball’s biggest beefs saw new life this year when “The Last Dance” aired on ESPN.

Michael Jordan used his airtime on the Chicago Bulls documentary to reignite a decades-old feud with Isiah Thomas dating back to their playoff battles in the late 1980s and early ’90s.

According to Thomas, Jordan’s hatred of him was news to him until the documentary aired.

What Michael Jordan said about Isiah Thomas

In cased you missed it, Jordan made it crystal clear how he felt.

“I hated them,” Jordan said of Thomas’ Detroit Pistons. “And the hate carries to this day.”

As for Thomas specifically?

“There’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t an a--hole,” Jordan said.

The primary source of Jordan’s ire was the Pistons’ refusal to exchange handshakes after Jordan’s Bulls beat them in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. The Pistons had beat the Bulls in the conference finals the previous two years en route to back-to-back NBA titles.

News to Thomas

Thomas spoke this week on a podcast with Shannon Sharpe. He told Sharpe that he watched “The Last Dance” with “great disappointment” and talked about his surprise when hearing Jordan’s feelings.

“Even until I watched ‘The Last Dance,’ I didn’t realize that he felt the way he felt the way about me,” Thomas said. “I never had no bad words with him or anything like that. We played. His team won, my team won. We went home, they went home.”

The animosity between the two players and teams has long been well-documented. And Jordan’s feelings toward Thomas have long been believed as the reason Thomas didn’t play on the historic 1992 Olympic “Dream Team.”

Isiah Thomas apparently wasn't aware that Michael Jordan thought he was an a--hole.  (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)
Isiah Thomas apparently wasn't aware that Michael Jordan thought he was "an a--hole." (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)

Thomas believes Jordan blackballed him from ‘Dream Team’

Jordan denied on “The Last Dance” that he demanded Thomas be left off the roster as is widely believed.

“You want to attribute it to me, go ahead and be my guest,” Jordan said. “But it wasn’t me.”

Jordan, who acknowledged Thomas’ greatness as a player, instead blamed Thomas’ personality for his omission.

“The Dream Team, based on the environment and the camaraderie that happened on that team, it was the best harmony,” Jordan said. “Would Isiah have made a different feeling on that team? Yes.”

Thomas remains convinced his omission was Jordan’s doing.

“It seem that there was only one person that had a problem with it,” Thomas told Sharpe. “And that was Jordan.”

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