MJ on Isiah Thomas: 'No Matter How Much I Hate Him, I Respect His Game'

Megan ArmstrongSenior Analyst IIMay 4, 2020

Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan, left, and Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons smile as they talk while waiting for the lights to brighten at Chicago Stadium before their game, Jan. 24, 1992.  The start of the game was delayed 30 minutes because of a broken fuse, and most of the first quarter was played in semi-darkness.  (AP Photo/Fred Jewell)
Fred Jewell/Associated Press

There's a difference between liking somebody and respecting somebody.

Michael Jordan made that clear while discussing Isiah Thomas during the fifth episode of The Last Dance on Sunday night:

ESPN @espn

Game respects game. #TheLastDance https://t.co/Dhoyyl5E2N

Jordan's comments were made while discussing how the 1992 Dream Team was formed. It was believed that the 57-year-old Hall of Famer only joined under the condition that Thomas not be included on the roster, but Jordan was quick to debunk that:

David Gardner @byDavidGardner

"Yo, MJ, you wanna play on the Olympic team?" "Who all gonna be there?"

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

MJ denied keeping Isiah Thomas off the Dream Team. https://t.co/7OW87kZwAZ

Jordan's Chicago Bulls and Thomas' Detroit Pistons developed one of the most heated rivalries in the league's history prior to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona.

Jordan's and the Bulls' quest to overtake Thomas and the Bad Boy Pistons in the late 1980s and early '90s was documented in earlier episodes of The Last Dance:

ESPN @espn

“You can show me anything you want. It’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t an a--hole.” —MJ on Isiah Thomas #TheLastDance https://t.co/0v2ArzrghL

ESPN @espn

How did the Pistons stop MJ? The Jordan Rules. #TheLastDance https://t.co/G8UchQU260

Detroit won back-to-back NBA Finals in 1989 and '90, ousting Chicago in the Eastern Conference Finals both years. Jordan captured his first of six titles in 1991 after sweeping the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals and upsetting the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 in the NBA Finals.

The Last Dance chronicles Jordan, the 1997-98 Bulls and everything leading up to the dynasty's sixth and final championship.

Thomas retired following the 1993-94 campaign, but his Pistons would never make it back to the NBA Finals after Jordan and the Bulls swept them in 1991.