Isiah Thomas Responds to Michael Jordan's 'Assh--e' Comment on 'The Last Dance'

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistApril 27, 2020

CHICAGO - 1989:  Isiah Thomas #11 of the Detroit Pistons looks to pass against Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls during an NBA game in 1989 at the Chicago Stadium in Chicago, Illinois.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 1989 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

Anyone who watched Sunday's installments of The Last Dance will know two things:

1) Dennis Rodman was wild.

2) Michael Jordan still holds a grudge against Isiah Thomas.

Jordan's choice quote came when he reviewed comments made by Thomas, who shifted blame away from himself for how MJ was treated—particularly the Pistons' decision to not shake the Bulls' hands as they walked off the court after losing the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.

"You can show me anything you want. It's no way you can convince me he wasn't an assh--e," Jordan said.

Thomas responded to Jordan's comments Monday on ESPN's Get Up:

"In terms of how we felt at that particular time as champions, we were coming down, Michael Jordan was coming up. And in coming up, you have certain emotions. And in coming down as champions, you have certain emotions. And I've said this a many of times: Looking back over the years, had we had the opportunity to do it all over again, I think all of us would make a different decision.

"Now, me, myself, personally, I paid a heavy price for that decision. And in paying that price, you know, I understand that this is the sports world and everything else, but at the same time looking back over in terms of how we felt at that particular time, our emotional state and how we exited the floor, we actually gave the world the opportunity to look at us in a way that we never really tried to position ourselves in or project ourselves in that way. So it's unfortunate that it happened, but that's just how it was during that period of time."

The "price" to which Thomas refers is his being left off the 1992 Dream Team at Jordan's behest because of their bad blood. Thomas and Jordan were bitter rivals dating back to at least the 1985 NBA All-Star Game, when it was perceived that Thomas led a freeze-out of the then-rising star. That only continued as Jordan's Bulls and Thomas' Pistons met in four straight postseasons.

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"That was one of the stipulations put to me that Isiah wasn't part of the team," Jordan said in the 2012 documentary The Dream Team. "I was getting strong innuendos it wasn't just … it was coming from a higher place who didn't want Isiah on the team."

Thomas said on Get Up that he's "more disappointed today" that he wasn't part of the team:

"Being left off the Dream Team, that personally hurt me. In 1980, I was on the Olympic team. As a matter of fact, I was voted the Male Athlete of the Year in 1980 for the USA Olympic Team. And, you know, the only thing missing from my resume is not being on the Dream Team. Now, when the Dream Team was selected and I wasn't a part of it, there was a lot of controversy around it. And I still don't know who did it or why they say I didn't make it. I know the criteria for selection of making the team, I had fit all the criteria. And that's a big hole in my resume, that's the biggest hole in my resume. That is the only place, and that's the only thing in my resume that I did not succeed at."

With The Last Dance set to delve into the Dream Team next week, we'll likely get a window into whether Jordan regrets his part in keeping Thomas off the team. Odds are he does not.