Isiah Thomas speaks out on rivalry with Michael Jordan: ‘He wasn’t really my competition’
The long-simmering beef between Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas has gotten a renewed spotlight in the weeks since “The Last Dance” premiered on ESPN, with the Chicago Bulls legend reminding NBA fans that he still holds a grudge against the Detroit Pistons Hall of Famer.
Thomas has been defending his record and responding to Jordan’s comments — including Jordan saying that, while he respects Thomas’ talent and considers him the second best NBA point guard ever, he still “hates” him.
During an appearance on Fox Sports’ “Speak For Yourself” show, Thomas argued that Jordan wasn’t really his competition in the NBA during his peak.
“When we were all young and healthy – from 84 to 90 – the numbers speak for themselves. He wasn’t really my competition. My competition was Bird and Magic, trying to catch the Celtics, trying to catch the Lakers. Chicago at that time, and Jordan at that time, from 84 to 90, before my wrist surgery, he just – that wasn’t my competition,” Isiah Thomas said of Michael Jordan, per Dan Feldman of NBC Sports.
Thomas’ Pistons squared off with the Celtics three times during that time-frame and played the Lakers twice in the NBA Finals. They faced Chicago in four consecutive postseasons from 1988-1991.
.@IsiahThomas says Jordan wasn't his competition
"When we were all young and healthy from 84-90, the numbers speak for themselves, he wasn’t really my competition; My competition was Bird and Magic." pic.twitter.com/fLO1X4pR92
— Speak For Yourself (@SFY) May 20, 2020
Jordan’s apparent dislike for Thomas seems to date back to the 1985 All-Star game when Thomas may have “froze Jordan out” of his first NBA All-Star game. The physical battles between Jordan’s Bulls and Thomas’ “Bad Boys” squad only added more tension to their relationship.
Jordan remains infuriated by the Pistons’ walk-off before shaking hands at the conclusion of Chicago’s sweep in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Many believe Jordan’s dislike of Thomas influenced the decision to keep the NBA icon off the 1992 “Dream Team” roster.