Michael Jordan‘s path to championship success first featured a rough stretch of getting past the Bad Boy Detriot Pistons. Jordan developed intense hatred toward the Pistons due to the physically brutal playoff battles. However, one of Isiah Thomas‘ teammates still won’t apologize to the former Chicago Bulls great for his actions three decades ago.
Michael Jordan’s fierce rivalry with Isiah Thomas and the Pistons
Before Jordan and the Bulls dominated the 1990s, the Pistons stood in their way.
The Bad Boys team led by Isiah Thomas served as the primary roadblock that prevented Chicago from serious NBA title contention. Detroit had its way with Jordan in the late 1980s behind three consecutive playoff eliminations, including the last two instances occurring in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The Pistons roughed up the star guard by using the “Jordan Rules,” aimed at wearing him down through hard fouls and physical play. Detroit ended the decade with back-to-back NBA titles while Jordan struggled to move past his hated Eastern Conference rivals.
“Just head-to-head, I was dominant over him,” Thomas said via the Club Shay Shay podcast. “Until ’91 when I basically had career-ending wrist surgery, up until then, my record against him and his team — it really wasn’t competition there.”
Jordan didn’t break through until 1991 where he swept the Pistons on the path toward winning his first of six NBA titles. Nonetheless, Detroit sat as a thorn in the Hall of Famer’s side, and one of his former opponents still won’t move on from the intense rivalry.
Isiah Thomas’ Pistons teammate still refuses to apologize to Michael Jordan 30 years later: ‘I don’t need to shake hands when I lose a championship’
During that heated rivalry, plenty of strong hatred was developed.
Much of which was fueled by the Pistons’ playing style anchored by physicality that roughed up Michael Jordan and other teams. The Bulls star guard finally getting past Detroit was met by Thomas and several of his teammates walking off the court before the final buzzer of the 1991 close-out playoff series loss.
In the three decades since that defeat, former Pistons’ big man Rick Mahorn still holds no remorse toward not shaking Jordan’s hand after the playoff elimination.
F**k them,” Mahorn said during an interview on the Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz in July. ” I’d have been kicking ass all from one to twelve. Nobody would have got none of it. I don’t need to shake hands when I lose a championship, man, forget that. Y’all have pissed me off and I am about to get off.”
There is clearly no love lost from Mahorn toward Jordan or the Bulls. His emotions remain strong as the loss ended the Pistons’ chance at securing three consecutive NBA titles. If that sentiment hasn’t changed three decades later, it’s hard to imagine that will ever happen.
Michael Jordan still hates the Pistons
Mahorn isn’t alone in that regard, as Jordan still holds strong disdain toward the Pistons.
During Episode 3 of the ESPN docuseries “The Last Dance,” the six-time NBA champion revealed that he hasn’t let go of his hatred directed at his longtime rivals.
“Oh, I hated them,” Jordan said via ESPN. “And that hate carries even to this day.”
It’s unsurprising to hear that the 58-year-old hasn’t moved past his disdain toward the Pistons. Jordan is wired mentally that way, which won’t alter even as he moves further away from his NBA career.
It’s simply who he is, and that will never change.