It’s been a couple of decades since Isiah Thomas made headlines in sports, but after Michael Jordan’s eye-opening documentary The Last Dance, released in April 2020, “Zeke” is back in the news.
The Last Dance, a 10-part documentary produced by ESPN that follows the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls chase journey for a sixth championship, is largely about Jordan. However, one of the film’s biggest themes revolves around the supposed grim rivalry between Jordan and Thomas.
The drama reportedly started in 1985 at the NBA All-Star Game in Indianapolis when Jordan was a rookie. According to CBS Sports Jordan did not get much of the ball during the game and took fewer shots than anyone else on his team.
Over the years it has been speculated that Thomas and a few other players staged a freeze, specifically to teach Jordan a lesson. On CBS Sports, the other players reportedly didn’t like that His Airness participated in the dunk contest the night before wearing a gold chain around his neck and warm-ups in place of his Bulls uniform. At the time, Jordan said, “I didn’t want to be perceived as a rookie who was stealing the show.”
Still, Jordan made his mark after the All-Star break, scoring 49 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, and four steals against Thomas and the Detroit Pistons. It has been suggested that what happened at Indy became a turning point in Jordan’s illustrious career and a possible stain on the legacy of fellow Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, but there may be more to this story. Let’s take a closer look.
Did outdoors cut Isiah Thomas from the dream team?
Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan did not lose their love for each other, particularly after the Chicago Bulls beat the Detroit Pistons in the 1991 NBA Championship in a clean sweep.
Before the 1992 Olympics, it was decided that professional players could participate for the first time in history. That year’s team, also known as “The Dream Team,” was created out of the NBA’s best, including Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird, but as Fox Sports reports, the Pistons’ superstar Thomas was famous for being off the list Rumors were circulating that it was Jordan’s thing; that MJ had requested that Thomas be on the team.
The documentary The Last Dance brought up the Olympic controversy. Jordan claimed in the miniseries that he was contacted by the Chairman of the Selection Committee, Rod Thorn, before the Summer Games: “Rod Thorn calls me and says: “We would love for you to be on the Dream Team. I say, ‘Who’s playing everything?’ He says, ‘What does that mean?’ I say, ‘Who’s playing everything?’ He says, ‘Well, the guy you’re talking about or thinking about isn’t going to play.'”
In May 2020, Thorn insisted that nothing suspicious had happened involving Jordan, Thomas, and the Olympic team. “Isiah’s name never came up during that conversation,” Thorn said to ESPN.
We may never know for sure, but it is clear that this rivalry remains a hot topic to this day!