Michael Jordan expected nothing more from the Pistons when they walked off the court without shaking the Bulls’ hands after 1991 sweep.
It felt as though the rite of passage for Michael Jordan to ascend into the uppermost echelon of NBA superstars in the league at the time, his Chicago Bulls would have to get over the Detroit Pistons hump in the Playoffs. Led by Isiah Thomas, the ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons were a major foil to Jordan’s squad over a 4 year period.
The 1988 ECSF saw the Pistons beat the Bulls, 4-1, and a year later, the latter would take one step closer to reaching the Finals by making it to the Eastern Conference Finals. Michael Jordan and Chicago would win one more game than the previous year and lose 4-2. The 1990 ECF followed suit as the Pistons won 4-3.
With Thomas having added two rings to his resume to Jordan’s 0, seems as though the 1988 MVP had had enough. The 1991 Chicago Bulls would sweep the reigning champions in the Eastern Conference Finals to reach their first ever Finals and win it too.
Michael Jordan claims the Pistons didn’t have to shake their hands to know that they had their a**es whipped.
What made the Bulls-Pistons series an all-time classic was the rivalry that was built up over the years. Bill Laimbeer and company did everything to physically harm Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, and the rest of Bulls. They even employed what was known as the ‘Jordan rules’ where they would double team him off the catch.
After three straight years of postseason disappointment, the Bulls would go on to lose merely win Playoff series in the entirety of the 1990s. Even after besting the Bulls in those three years, Isiah Thomas and the Pistons weren’t content with having lost the 1991 series to the Bulls.
With 7.9 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter of Game 4, everyone from Thomas to Mark Aguirre cleared the bench and went back to their locker room. They did not shake hands with any of Chicago’s players, something which was looked down upon by the general public.
When talking about this moment, Michael Jordan seems to have expected nothing more from them. “Typical. We figured the ‘Bad Boys, their whole image. You know, we just felt, well, they didn’t have to shake my hand to know we just whipped their a**. It didn’t bother me because it didn’t surprise me at all, because of the camaraderie and rivalry we had against each other.”