Magic Johnson: I Didn't 'Have a Hand In' Keeping Isiah Thomas off Dream TeamMay 4, 2020
Magic Johnson said he wasn't responsible for keeping Isiah Thomas off the 1992 Olympics team, but he did say the guard's attitude contributed to his exclusion.
The Hall of Famer explained his stance Monday on ESPN's First Take:
"You have to be with each other for two months, and there was four or five guys who just had problems with him. He was unfortunately not going to be a part of the Dream Team because of those problems, because we all had to live with each other for two months, practice with each other, hang out with each other, all those things. That doesn’t take away from Isiah’s career or who he is as a man, but at the same time, Isiah has to own up to his own problems and say: ‘Hey, you know what? I had a hand in in that, in that situation.’ Now, did I have a hand in him not being on the Dream Team? No. They didn’t ask me who should be on the team. The only thing David Stern and Rod Thorn asked me to do was to call Larry Bird and Michael Jordan and tell them they should play on the Dream Team."
On Sunday's episode of The Last Dance, Michael Jordan discussed his feud with the Detroit Pistons star but denied forcing Thomas off the Dream Team.
"You want to attribute it to me, go ahead and be my guest. But it wasn’t me," Jordan said in the documentary, via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today.
Jack McCallum wrote in his book Dream Team that Jordan gave an ultimatum to selection committee member Rod Thorn at the time.
"I don’t want to play if Isiah Thomas is on the team," Jordan reportedly said, via NBC Sports.
Regardless of who specifically kept the Pistons point guard off the team, Johnson indicated Monday there were others who also didn't want him there.
Thomas was one of the best players of his generation, earning 12 All-Star selections while leading his team to two NBA titles. However, his other actions—including not shaking hands with the Chicago Bulls after a playoff series loss—hurt his popularity amongst his peers.
Jordan argued during The Last Dance that Thomas would've hurt the team chemistry for the United States squad.
"The Dream Team, based on the environment and the camaraderie that happened on that team, it was the best harmony," he said. "Would Isiah have made a different feeling on that team? Yes."
Team USA won the gold medal with a roster that had 11 eventual Hall of Famers.