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Magic Johnson denies role in Isiah Thomas’ exclusion from Dream Team

NBA, Magic Johnson, Isiah Thomas

Twenty-eight years have passed, yet there remains to be no clear explanation as to why NBA great Isiah Thomas was infamously excluded from the USA Men’s National Basketball Team that won gold in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. For many years, pundits believed it was Michael Jordan’s call to leave out the leader of the Detroit Pistons Bad Boys.

Recently though, veteran NBA reporter Mike Wilbon claimed that Magic Johnson and Larry Bird had a hand in Thomas’ exclusion — an accusation that Magic immediately denied.

In an appearance on ESPN’s First Take on Monday, Magic debunked that claim.

“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,” the NBA icon said.

“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.”

Talent-wise, Thomas clearly met the criteria in terms of joining with what is still dubbed as the best basketball team ever assembled. Most NBA fans believed he should have gotten the nod over Christian Laettner.

Magic Johnson, meanwhile, echoed the same sentiments that Michael Jordan said in the latest episodes of ESPN’s The Last Dance docu-series aired on Sunday.

Jordan went as far as to claim that the Dream Team wouldn’t have had the same camaraderie had the controversial Thomas been with the team.