Isiah Thomas Passionately Defends Bad Boy Pistons Criticized by Michael Jordan in Last Dance: “Those Who Haven’t Become Champions Can’t Understand That Sacrifice”

Published 12/23/2021, 2:30 PM EST


Isiah Thomas was the marquee player for the Detroit Pistons during his playing time. He played for the Pistons from 1981 to 1994 and was considered one of the best point guards in the league. During a spell in their history, the Pistons were known for being physical and combative on the court. This aspect of their game was criticized by Michael Jordan in the Last Dance Documentary.

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Recently, Thomas appeared on the ‘Full-Bodied’ podcast with Channing Frye, where he talked about the Detroit Pistons. Thomas was asked about the “Bad Boy” Pistons and he went on to passionately defend them.

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Isiah Thomas talks about the “Bad Boy” Pistons

Physical gameplay and a defensive approach were the trademarks of the Detroit Pistons in the late 80s and early 90s. 

Thomas defended his team by calling them the team with the best defense. “All of them. All of them people that they say are the best to ever do it, my teams beat all them. We probably was the best defensive team to ever play in the NBA,” Thomas said in the podcast.

He further added, “Those who haven’t become champions can’t understand that sacrifice, don’t understand that journey. And therefore, they lower the bar and say that ‘Oh, you were just lucky to be on the championship team.'”

Michael Jordan and the Detroit Pistons’ rivalry

MJ had a lot of bad blood with his and the Bulls’ traditional rivals Detroit Pistons. 

The rivalry started all the way back in Jordan’s second season in the league. Jordan got hit by a hard foul from Bill Laimbeer of the Pistons on a layup attempt. This lead to an altercation between Bulls coach Stan Albeck and Pistons coach Chuck Daly.

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Detroit Pistons hold the accolade for being the biggest hurdle in Jordan’s path. This led to 3 consecutive losses for the Chicago Bulls, starting from the 1987-88 season. They once again fell short to the Pistons in 1989 in the Eastern Conference finals.

1990 was no different for the Bulls as they failed to beat the Pistons for the third season in a row. 

The following season, the Bulls finally manage to break through the Pistons as they clinch their first finals spot. Two players from the Pistons camp decided to leave the game with a few seconds remaining in order to avoid shaking hands.

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Many called this the end of the bad boy era for the Detroit Pistons. The rivalry continues till date and Michael Jordan and Pistons star man Isiah Thomas still refuse to settle their disputes. 

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Abhinava Ghosh

186 articles

Abhinava is an NBA writer for EssentiallySports. He is currently pursuing his Bachelor's in Journalism and Mass Communication. Abhinava has been following NBA for the past 6 years and is a huge fan of the Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry.

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