Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan had an intense rivalry with the Detroit Pistons during his career. The “Bad Boys” physically hurt him whenever he drove to the basket and that caused Jordan to hate every player on the Pistons essentially.
The Bulls lost to the Pistons three straight years in the playoffs in ’88, ’89, and ’90. There were certainly moments where Jordan felt he would never get past Detroit, but he never stopped working on his body and game and finally defeated his arch-nemesis in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.
Chicago not only swept the Pistons, but Jordan also took shots at Detroit on the off-day between Games 3 and 4, which could be the reason why Isiah Thomas and Co. didn’t shake hands with the Bulls and walked off the court before Game 4 ended.
Michael Jordan called Pistons unworthy champions
The Pistons won back-to-back championships in ’89 and ’90. However, Jordan told Detroit reporters before Game 4 of the ’91 conference finals that the Pistons were unworthy champions because of how they played. As expected, that didn’t sit well with the “Bad Boys.”
Led by Bill Laimbeer, Dennis Rodman, and Rick Mahorn, the Pistons fouled their opponents hard and didn’t care if they hurt anyone. One of the “Jordan Rules” mandates was to knock MJ to the ground and try to hurt him when he was close to the basket. Naturally, Jordan got upset and had no respect for the Pistons.
When the Bulls swept the Pistons in the ’91 Eastern Conference Finals, Jordan looked forward to Detroit showing sportsmanship by shaking his hand and wishing him good luck in the Finals since he had done that every time he lost to his central division foe. However, before Game 4 ended, Laimbeer told his teammates they weren’t going to shake hands with the Bulls players, and what happened next would go down as the final act in the Chicago-Detroit rivalry.
Pistons walked off court before Game 4 ended
The Pistons were not only angry that the Bulls swept them, but they were also upset by Jordan’s “unworthy champions” comment. As a result, they walked off the court before Game 4 was over and strolled right by Jordan and the Bulls’ bench.
Ever since that moment, Jordan hasn’t had any respect for Thomas, who was left off the 1992 Dream Team. The Bulls legend couldn’t believe the lack of sportsmanship the Pistons displayed, especially since he shook their hands in ’88, ’89, and ’90.
Jordan may have crossed the line when he said the Pistons were unworthy champions because of the dirty style of basketball they played. However, there was no excuse for Detroit to walk off the court and not display proper sportsmanship, and it’s not surprising to see that Jordan still hates Thomas.
Michael Jordan called Isiah Thomas an “a-hole” in the Last Dance
While discussing the Pistons’ decision to walk off the court in Episode 4 of The Last Dance, Jordan called Thomas an “a-hole” for how he acted in ’91.
“Whatever he says now, you know it wasn’t his true actions then,” Jordan said. “You know, there’s time enough to think about it, or the reaction of the public that’s changed his perspective. You can show me anything you want. There’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t an a-hole.”
Jordan will likely forever hold a grudge against Thomas and the Pistons. After all, they physically beat him up and acted like sore losers.