Isiah Thomas praises his archnemesis Michael Jordan while talking about the Bulls-Pistons rivalry between the late 80s and early 90s.
The rivalry between the bad boy Pistons and MJ is no secret. The respective teams had a lot of bad blood between them. The eastern conference playoffs often saw the teams battle it out in the mud.
Isiah Thomas and MJ to date don’t see eye to eye. Their tumultuous relationship was, especially, brought to notice in Jordan’s docuseries on Netflix called The Last Dance.
The Detroit Pistons were 3-1 against the Chicago Bulls during the playoffs. The teams met for 4-years consecutively between 1988-91. Though the Pistons defeated the Bulls in their first 3 encounters, the conference finals in 1991 saw the Bulls led by Jordan sweep the Pistons.
MJ did not shy away from calling Zeke an a**hole as the latter didn’t shake hands with the Bulls after losing to them in the conference finals.
It’s been more than 3 decades, and the two icons still don’t seem to have resolved their issues. On the contrary, if Jordan’s docuseries Last Dance is to go by, their enmity seems to be on an all-time high.
Though the two Hall of Famers despised each other, they have always maintained respect for each other’s game. In March 2020, Thomas was a guest on the Knuckleheads podcast with Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson.
During the discussion, Zeke had some words of praise for the Bulls superstar.
Isiah Thomas had some words of appreciation for his adversary Michael Jordan
While appearing as a guest on the popular podcast The Knuckleheads, the 2x NBA champion Isiah Thomas spoke about how despite him and Joe Dumars being defensively great, the Bulls superstar would drop 50 on them.
“And by the way, if one of us was in trouble defensively, then we would come and help. It’s like we used to always say, ‘OK, we ain’t gonna let Jordan get 50 on you,’ but he did, said Thomas.
He continued saying,
“But at least we had the mentality that, OK, I’m coming to help. Now, when I get over there, I may not be able to nothing, but at least when you turned around, and he scored on you, you looking at your teammate saying, ‘OK, I ain’t by myself.’ He scored 50 on us.”
(During the 43:26 second of the above clip, Isiah Thomas talks about his rivalry with Michael Jordan)
The Bulls lost to the bad boy Pistons 3-years in a row during the NBA Playoffs. During the 1990 ECF, the Bulls were very close to defeating the Pistons but lost to them in Game Seven at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
During an episode of The Last Dance, MJ admitted that he cried on the team bus, as he was the closest he had been to beat the Pistons.
However, the consecutive year the Bulls came back stronger, having packed on some muscle. The Bulls would sweep the Pistons in the ECF, marking the end of the bad boys’ era.
Though It is very evident that MJ and Isiah share a very hostile relationship, however, a point to note is the two have always shared a great respect for each other’s game.