Legendary Detroit Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas had his “rivalry renewed” with Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls since “The Last Dance” premiered on ESPN, and showcased their head-to-head matchups during the ’80s and early ’90s.
Thomas already has made a string of questionable comments since “The Last Dance” aired. For example, during an interview with CBS Sports when he was asked to list the five greatest players who ever competed against him, he listed Jordan fourth. Thomas ranked Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson ahead of Jordan, with Julius Erving finishing fifth.
During an appearance on Fox Sports’ “Speak For Yourself”, Thomas argued that the Pistons’ best competition was Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics as well as Magic Johnson’s “Showtime” Los Angeles Lakers moreso than the Bulls.
Thomas said Jordan wasn’t really his true competition in the NBA during his prime years.
“When we were all young and healthy -- from ’84 to ’90 -- the numbers speak for themselves,” Thomas said. “He wasn’t really my competition. My competition was Bird and Magic, trying to catch the Celtics, trying to catch the Lakers. Chicago at that time, and Jordan at that time, from ’84 to ’90, before my wrist surgery, he just -- that wasn’t my competition.”
Thomas and the Pistons faced off against the Celtics three times during those years, and they played against the Lakers twice in the NBA Finals. They also squared off against the Bulls in four straight postseasons from 1988-1991.
Thomas’ Pistons and Jordan’s Bulls had some intense, physical battles during their head-to-head meetings during their playing days.
Jordan stated in “The Last Dance” that it still bothered him when the Pistons didn’t shake hands with the Bulls after Chicago’s sweep of Detroit in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Also, many analysts have suggested Thomas was left off the 1992 “Dream Team” roster because Jordan disliked him, and he influenced others to feel the same way.