Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas fostered a fierce rivalry that cultivated plenty of hatred. The Hall of Famers became bitter rivals that left lasting disdain that remains decades after their playing days. However, the former Pistons great made a shocking admission about teaming up with Jordan.
Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan shared intense rivalry
Before Jordan reached championship success, his Bulls teams struggled to push past Thomas’ Bad Boy Pistons.
Detroit was a thorn in Jordan’s side as they not only battered him up physically but dominated him behind three straight playoff exits. The last two instances featured the Pistons topping the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals. These intense matchups featured many difficult, contentious moments fueled by Detroit’s “Jordan Rules.”
It wasn’t until 1991 where Jordan finally got the best of his hated rivals with a sweep in the Eastern Conference finals. After that point, the Bulls dominated the 1990s with six NBA titles over eight years, while Detroit fell into the abyss of mediocracy.
The Pistons suffered a first-round exit the following year, while Thomas tailed into retirement after the 1993-94 season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon. Detroit failed to make the playoffs in each of his last two campaigns.
Despite all that, the Hall of Fame point guard made a surprising comment concerning playing with his hated rival.
Isiah Thomas surprisingly admitted he would have embraced playing alongside Michael Jordan with the Pistons: ‘We would have welcomed him’
The disdain remains strong in the decades since Thomas and Jordan’s fierce rivalry.
The former Bulls great revealed during ESPN’s Last Dance docu-series that he still hates the Pistons. Meanwhile, Thomas has voiced he doesn’t hold any ill-will toward the fellow Hall of Famer. It’s a feud that stayed throughout much of their respective careers, fueled by several controversial moments.
However, it wouldn’t have swayed Thomas away from welcoming Jordan aboard to the Pistons. During an appearance on NBA TV’s Open Court in 2016, shortly after Kevin Durant’s free agency move to the Golden State Warriors, the two-time NBA champion voiced he would have embraced his longtime rival joining forces with him in Detroit.
“We would have welcomed him,” Thomas said.
It’s not what many Pistons fans want to hear, especially due to how things were handled in that era regarding rivalries. However, Thomas understands it would have been foolish to turn down the opportunity to play with arguably the game’s greatest talent.
At that same token, he voiced that he wouldn’t have left Detroit to join another team to compete for an NBA title.
“I welcome everybody on my team,” Thomas said. “I wouldn’t have left Detroit.”
It’s hard to imagine Jordan wanting to play with the Bad Boy Pistons after the physical torture he went through. However, if he ever entertained that possibility, Thomas would have welcomed him with open arms.
Cemented his NBA legacy through his 1990s dominance with the Bulls
Jordan chose to stick it out with the Bulls, resulting in an illustrious 13-year run before heading into retirement for a second time.
His dominant run through the 1990s elevated him to GOAT status. Beyond winning six NBA titles in as many appearances, he earned five of his regular-season MVP awards, garnered seven All-NBA First Team nods, captured seven scoring titles, and received six Finals MVP awards.
Jordan’s dominance in the decade cemented himself as arguably the greatest player in league history.