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The beef between Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas has been well documented. To say the two former NBA stars haven’t been the best of friends since their early days in the league would be quite the understatement. It came to a head during The Last Dance, a docuseries on Jordan’s final championship year with the Chicago Bulls during the 1997-98 season.

During the series, Jordan called Thomas an a**hole when he spoke about the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals and how the Pistons walked off the floor without shaking hands with the Bulls. While the comment bothered Thomas, it didn’t rile him up like three other words Jordan said.

Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan were bitter rivals in the late ’80s and early ’90s

Isiah Thomas of the Detroit Pistons looks to pass the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during an NBA game circa 1989 at The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, Michigan. | Focus on Sport/Getty Images.

The Detroit Pistons had to bide their time. They saw the Boston Celtics rule the Eastern Conference by reaching the NBA Finals in four straight seasons from 1984 to 1987. In 1988, the Pistons finally dethroned the Celtics and reached the championship round for three consecutive years.

The Jordan-led Bulls then took over, knocking off the Pistons and winning three straight championships. That’s when the Jordan/Thomas feud seemingly began and things got personal. Thomas recently said he wasn’t aware of any problem with Jordan until the documentary came out.

It’s been rumored that Jordan played a key role in keeping Thomas off the “Dream Team” in 1992. Jordan said he never played a part in keeping Thomas off the squad. Thomas said he took Jordan at his word.

During a recent appearance on the Cedric Maxwell Podcast, Thomas said he never thought he and Jordan had any issues with each other. Thomas said Jordan and his producers even asked him to be a part of The Last Dance.

“He asked me to be in his documentary,” Thomas told Maxwell. “He asked me to be in The Last Dance. His producers asked me to be in The Last Dance. You see me sitting there in a three-piece and a tie. I’m dressed up. I didn’t think we had a problem. Whatever happened with Dream Team, I’m taking him at his word. He said he had nothing to do with it. OK. Stuff happens.

“He, Ahmad Rashad, and I have been to dinner. I’m thinking everything’s cool.”

Thomas upset with ‘I hate him’ comment


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Thomas said he was “blindsided” when he watched the docuseries with his family. He was shocked when he was called an “a**hole,” but that wasn’t even the part that bothered him most.

The Last Dance comes on during the lockdown,” Thomas said. “Me, my family, everybody’s watching. Everybody’s locked down because you can’t go outside. I’m sitting there watching like everybody else. I’m anxious to see it because it’s the first time I’m able to peek behind the Chicago Bulls curtain.

“I peeked behind the Celtics curtain, Lakers curtain. I know what’s behind us. You know, the Bulls, we never really got to see what was happening behind the scenes. I’m curious.

“Then it comes on. Forgive me when I say this, but I watch a whole documentary about a guy being an a**hole, and he calls me an a**hole.

“Now he calls me an a**hole and then says, ‘I hate him.’ Big words. Ain’t nobody ever said that about me. Former player, current player, ain’t nobody ever said, ‘I hate him.’ He said, ‘As much as I hate him…’

“I’m like, whoa, whoa. Now, we’re looking around, and my phone starts ringing. It’s his former teammates, his inner circle. ‘Well, Michael didn’t mean it. It didn’t come off the right way.’ I never hear from Michael. I’m hearing from everybody around him. Now, every interview I do, including this one, I have to answer the Michael Jordan question.

“If you didn’t mean it, then come out and clean it up. But if you meant it, you can leave it like it is, but stop sending your people to tell me that ain’t what you mean.”