Before he won six championships in an eight-year span in the ’90s, Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan had a difficult time getting past the Detroit Pistons, who were led by Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Bill Laimbeer. The Bulls lost to the Pistons three straight years in the playoffs, and it appeared they would never get over the hump.
However, Jordan and Co. finally defeated the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. Not only did the Bulls defeat their biggest rival, but they swept them and embarrassed them on their home floor in Game 4 to end the series.
Everyone knows Jordan wasn’t fond of Thomas during the Bulls-Pistons rivalry, but he hated Laimbeer just as much.
Bill Laimbeer fouled Michael Jordan very hard
Laimbeer played dirty against Jordan and the Bulls. He delivered hard fouls against MJ whenever Chicago and Detroit played and intentionally tried to hurt him.
The Pistons created the “Jordan Rules” as a way to stop the Bulls shooting guard from scoring. They would push Jordan to the elbow and not allow him to drive baseline, influence him to his left, trap him at the top of the key, and knock him to the ground when he got to the paint.
Laimbeer was the main guy who punished Jordan. He used to foul him very hard, and it took a big physical toll on MJ.
Jordan didn’t like anyone on those “Bad Boys” Pistons teams, but he respected Thomas’ basketball talent. Whenever someone brought up Laimbeer’s name to His Airness, though, he always found a way to rip the center.
Michael Jordan destroyed Bill Laimbeer on the Arsenio Hall Show
In 1990, Jordan was a guest on the Arsenio Hall Show, and he destroyed Laimbeer on national television. He called the Pistons star the dirtiest player in the league and also took a shot at Adidas.
“If you had 273 professional basketball players here and you say who’s the dirtiest player in the NBA, I say 95% say Laimbeer or Larry Bird,” Jordan said. “Holding, pulling, hard fouls. Laimbeer is very dirty in terms of…you see Laimbeer, he doesn’t jump well. He can’t block a shot. You got myself on the break, and he’s on the break, you know he’s not gonna block my shot. So to see him coming at me with full steam ahead, it’s only to knock me over, knock me off balance. He can’t block my shot. I already said that I got Air Jordan’s on, he’s got Adidas on.”
This was a savage moment by Jordan, who clearly had no respect for Laimbeer.
When the Bulls swept the Pistons in the ’91 Eastern Conference Finals, Detroit didn’t shake Chicago’s hands and walked off the court. As we learned in the Last Dance docuseries, Laimbeer was the one behind the walk-off. He didn’t like Jordan back then and still doesn’t like him now.
The Prince of Darkness has LeBron James over MJ
Laimbeer believes LeBron James, and not Jordan, is the greatest player of all time. Thomas has also been on record saying that James is the GOAT over MJ.
Jordan went 6-0 in the Finals and won all six Finals MVPs. Meanwhile, LeBron is 4-6 in the Finals, but he is the only player in NBA history to rank top-10 all-time in points and assists.
The GOAT debate between Jordan and LeBron will never stop. In fact, it will become even louder if James wins his fifth title and fifth Finals MVP this season with the Los Angeles Lakers.