Bulls legend Michael Jordan called the Detroit Pistons unworthy champions during the 1991 ECF, which is why Isiah Thomas led them off court.
It would not be wrong to say that the Bulls-Pistons rivalry will go down as one of the greatest rivalries in NBA history.
The Pistons led by Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, and Isiah Thomas were known as the bad boys of the NBA due to the physical nature in which they played the game. The Pistons defeated the Bulls 3-years in a row during the playoffs.
The Detroit team was back-to-back champions in 1989-90, with Joe Dumars and Isiah Thomas being Finals MVP in the respective years.
During the bad boys’ era where the Pistons would dominate the league. Michael Jordan from the Chicago Bulls was on his way to be one of the top players in the NBA. MJ was coming off one of his best seasons in 1988, where he was crowned the league MVP and DPOY.
Jordan posed to be one of the biggest challenges for the Piston’s defense. One of the most popular strategies that the Pistons employed against the Bulls during the playoffs was the “Jordan Rule.”
The rule basically had Jordan being solely targeted. The Pistons would try to hurt the superstar as much as possible and not let him reach the basket, playing extremely physical.
The Pistons defeated the Bulls 3-years consecutively, from 1988-1990. However, the tide turned in 1991 when Michael Jordan won his first-ever NBA championship.
Michael Jordan swept Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons 4-0 in the 1991 ECF
At a time when everyone felt the Bulls would never be able to get past the Detroit Pistons. MJ would continue to put in the work with his will to lead and succeed.
The Bulls would face the Pistons in the eastern conference finals for the third time in a row in 1991. Though Pistons had the edge as they were up 2-0 in the last two meetings.
The 1991 ECF would have the Bulls dominate and sweep the Pistons 4-0, to everyone’s surprise. Jordan led the Bulls averaging 29.8 PPG, 7.0 APG, and 5.3 RPG on a 53.5% shooting from the field.
During the series, there was an instance where Jordan, while throwing shots at the Pistons, called them unworthy champions. This statement by Jordan made things worse between the Bulls and Piston, who already had tensions between them.
Bulls would go on to sweep the Pistons. During Game Four, with 7.9 seconds remaining on the clock. Isiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer, and Mark Aguirre showed their last act of defiance by not shaking hands with the Bulls team and would make their way straight to the locker room.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 27, 2020
Jordan still holds grudges against Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, which was evident in his docu-series the last dance as well. The Bulls legend as rumors are to be believed, played a major role in Isiah not being part of the 1992 Dream Team that went to the Olympics.
The Bulls/Pistons/Michael Jordan/Isiah Thomas rivalry is still alive and well and we’re here for it.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) April 27, 2020
Though several years have passed, the two icons of the game still share a very hostile relationship. However, many years later, Isiah did admit he regretted not shaking hands with the Bulls at the time and had to pay a heavy price for that.