Jul
02
How and why Michael Jordan BANNED Isiah Thomas from the Dream Team!



in the 1980s the NBA was very very different the game was much more physical and a lot of the plays that are now called technical and flagrant fouls were just routine plays back then the culture amongst the players was also incredibly different trash-talking was at its peak and players from different teams legitimately hated each other players were not going on cruise ships together or would ever be caught dead on a banana boat together the offseason focus was on destroying one another and definitely not scheming to join forces the competition was incredibly fierce and there was no shortage of both personal and team rivalries one of the most iconic teams of the 80s were the Detroit Pistons the 1980s were physical days of basketball but the Pistons took that to another level entirely the squad was full of strong characters guys like Dennis Rodman the tenacious and scrappy defender a wild-card who played with hustle and heart unmet by his peers Rick Mahorn the enforcer who you definitely did not want to aggravate Bill Laimbeer the savage big man who seemed to enjoy being hated more than anything else and was always seemingly involved in the middle of every fight they were led by none other than Isiah Thomas the general a quick 6 1 point guard with a bigger-than-life smile off the court but a cold-blooded killer on it he was a driven leader with a clutch gene and had the courage to stand up to anyone together they were a group notorious for their Swagger attitude and extremely aggressive defense which is putting it lightly the squads motto became domination by intimidation and Lee certainly lived up to it Detroit was often criticized for what was seen as an extremely dirty style of play It was as if any given night you could turn on the television and see the Pistons players in a full-fledged brawl and no one would be surprised their reputation transcended sports as the team was pointing to the Raiders of the NBA due to their bad-boy image and their aggressive attitudes the players and fans embrace the comparison as did the Oakland Raiders organization going as far as sending official Raiders memorabilia to the Pistons players and coaches the numbers spoke for themselves though the eighties pistons were one of the elite defensive units in the league a year in and year out meanwhile the young and upcoming Chicago Bulls were led by Michael air jordans you know this guy even in his younger years before all the championships he wasn't just an NBA superstar he was a rock star an American icon he already earned the respect of other stars around the league but as far as the Pistons they seem to be particularly repulsed by Jordans flair in the 1987 season Jordan showed the Pistons what he was capable of dropping 61 points in an absolutely dominant effort leading the Bulls to a 125 120 overtime victory just one year later on an Easter Sunday in front of a nationally televised audience Jordan embarrassed the Pistons again this time dropping 59 points in a 112 110 victory this infuriated Pistons head coach Chuck Daly who then promised after the game to never allow Jordan to torch them again later that season Chuck would have the opportunity to uphold his promise the two teams met in the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals the Pistons had just finished with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference Jordan was coming off of an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year season despite Michaels best efforts Chicago was no match for Detroit in a seven-game series with Detroit winning this series comfortably four games to one the following year when the 1989 playoffs began Jordan had a site set on revenge this time the two teams met in the Eastern Conference Finals the Bulls were able to win one of the first two games in Detroit and then when the series returned to Chicago it appeared as if nothing was going to stop Michael Jordan then with the ball in his hands for the final moments Jordan did what Jordan does with Chicago now leading the series two games to one Isiah Thomas was left Restless that evening trying to figure out how to stop Jordan Isiah called his teammate and co-captain Joe Dumars and that evening they were up until the middle of the night contemplating planning and scheming at two o'clock in the morning Isiah calls the coaching staff with one clear message I figured out what we need to do to stop Michael Jordan and in that moment the Jordan rules were born the Pistons then approached the next game with a whole new level of ferocity and intensity and the results were evident information began to leak to the press of the Jordan rules but then when asked about the rules the Pistons sarcastically pretended as if they didn't exist the Jordan rules had multiple components but few were essential rule number one forced Michael into traffic if Jordan was on the strong side of the court forced him towards the middle and collapsed the defense upon him if Jordan was on the middle of the floor Thorsten to the left where the help defender is waiting to meet him rule number two make someone else beat you Bill Laimbeer was quoted to say we don't worry about Pippen as far as we're concerned there Jordan and the Jordanaires the Pistons were constantly throwing multiple defenders at MJ and showed little respect for the other Bulls players in the floor but they believed if Jordan wasn't going to beat them then the Bulls definitely wouldn't rule number three make Jordan work harder the Pistons began to attack the Bulls offensively with whichever player Michael was guarding the concept was that with Jordan using so much energy on the defensive end there was little energy left over for him on the offensive end and rule number four punished Jordan the Pistons would no longer allow any easy baskets to Michael when Jordan got to the paint they put him on his butt that was the rule and they did it over and over again the formula worked and the Bulls would not win another game in the series fast forward to the month of June and the Detroit Pistons were in B champions sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers four games to zero the 1989 pistons were being considered one of the greatest defenses in NBA history but as usual they weren't without their fair share of criticism even though the team was made up of undeniable winners the stigma of a dirty team was still very present the Bulls pistons rivalry was just getting warmed up in the 1990 NBA Playoffs the Bulls and pistons met again in the Eastern Conference Finals it was an epic series with the Jordan rules in full force Jordan was again being targeted and taking an overwhelming amount of physical abuse but he was also getting his own the progression and maturation of the Bulls team was clearly seen as they forced a game 7 in Detroit but Chicago still wasn't ready to dethrone the Pistons and lost in the deciding game eliminated from the playoffs for the third straight year at the hand of the Pistons the Pistons went on to win their second straight NBA championship Michael Jordan was now hell-bent on revenge and spent the offseason in the gym growing stronger and preparing himself for the physical task of facing the Detroit Pistons once again Jordan supporting cast also had another offseason of maturation and growing as a better ballclub another meeting in this rivalry was inevitable and the two teams were set to square off again in the Eastern Conference Finals the Bulls and their leader were stronger faster and just an overall better team than the Pistons the age and wear and tear was beginning to show for the Detroit players while Chicago players were all seemingly reaching their athletic peaks it wasn't much of a series but more of a statement the Bulls dominated the Detroit Pistons and were on the verge of winning their fourth game of the series to complete the sweep over Detroit the score was a blowout in favor of Chicago and in the final minutes of the last game of the series Isiah Thomas made one of the biggest decisions of his basketball career the Detroit players had a brief discussion while on the bench of those last moments and agreed that together they would head straight to the locker room before the final buzzer had even sounded there rain was coming to an end on their terms with 7.9 seconds left the Detroit Pistons left their bench walking to the locker room while awkwardly passing by the Bulls bench refusing to shake the victors hands or even make eye contact with them this was a huge slap in the face to Chicago for refusing to shake hands which is customary for teams at the end of a playoff series it was also a black eye for the image of the league the respect level around the league for the Detroit Pistons had hit an all-time low meanwhile the Bulls were moving on to face Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals the Bulls went on to win the series in commanding fashion four games to one Michael Jordan was now an NBA champion and on top of the basketball world summer of 1991 just days after the NBA Finals have come to a close the official selection committee for the USA's Olympic basketball team were making their selections as to which NBA players would be representing their country for the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona this was a huge deal it was the first time in history that NBA players would be representing the USA in the Summer Olympics the timing could not have possibly been any worse for Isiah Thomas the committee selected Michael Jordan Magic Johnson Larry Bird Scottie Pippen Clyde Drexler Charles Barkley David Robinson Chris Mullin Patrick Ewing Karl Malone John Stockton and the college phenom christian Laettner this team went on to be famously known as the dream team arguably the greatest basketball team ever assembled missing from the roster was future Hall of Fame point guard and captain of the recent two-time champion Pistons Isiah Thomas if talent alone was the determining factor in the selection process then leaving Isaiah off the team seemed like an obviously gigantic mistake oddly enough the committee had selected Detroit Pistons head coach Chuck Daly to lead the dream team in the Olympics rumors began to swirl that Michael Jordan was in fact responsible for Isiah being left off the team obviously Michael did not like Isiah the Jordan rules and the end of the 1991 series was something Michael had fresh in his memory it was believed that Michael gave the committee an ultimatum that he would not be joining the dream team if Isiah Thomas was on it on numerous occasions Michael has denied such allegations but in a book released in 2012 by author and basketball writer Jack McCallum he quotes Jordan to say rod I don't want to play if Isiah Thomas is on the team to us a selection committee member rod thorn Jordan has continued to deny those claims several players of the USA dream team have since said that they also did not want Isiah on the team Magic Johnson a longtime friend of Isaiah even said in his book nobody on that team wanted to play with him so maybe the collective voice of the players led the committee to leave Isaiah off the team or maybe the committee themselves simply didn't want him on the team but it is plausible that Michael Jordan's supposed ultimatum was the swaying factor in the selection process we may never know for sure what we do know for sure is that the 1992 dream team is one of the greatest teams of all time the Jordan era continued for many years after and that eras Detroit Pistons were never again serious title contenders with Isaiah Thomas's career coming to a somewhat bitter end and what was otherwise known as a legendary career