Bound to Hate Michael Jordan, 4x NBA Champ Breaks a Norm Only to Overcome Infamous Rivalry

Published 02/11/2024, 2:21 PM EST

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In a heated rivalry between the Pistons and Jordan’s Bulls, John Salley, a four-time NBA champion who starred for both the Pistons and the Bulls, recently sparked a dispute by declaring Michael Jordan to be the “Greatest Of All Time” (GOAT).

When questioned about the GOAT controversy in a recent interview, Salley said, “Michael Jordan, hands down.” He went on to sing praises of Jordan’s competitive nature, work ethic, and overall effect on the game. Some were taken aback by this, especially Pistons supporters who connect Salley to their team’s triumphs over Jordan.



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One of the fiercest rivalries in NBA history was between the Pistons and Bulls in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Known as the “Bad Boys,” the Pistons were renowned for their tough play and ability to defeat Jordan and the Bulls, claiming two NBA titles in the process. A further level of curiosity surrounds Salley’s latest comments, given he was an integral part of both Pistons championship teams.

Michael Jordan and John Salley’s relationship

The Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons rivalry from the late 80s and early 90s is a classic illustration of the kind of fierce rivalry that exists in the NBA. One of the most intense confrontations in the league pitted the uncontested leader of the Bulls, Michael Jordan, against an essential component of the “Bad Boys” Pistons, John Salley. Their team allegiances shaped their first interactions together. With the Pistons, Salley helped lead them to two championship victories over Jordan’s Bulls; the team’s tough, no-nonsense style was an ongoing source of frustration for Jordan.


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Still, destiny had a surprising turn in 1995. Salley became Jordan’s teammate after joining the Bulls. Their relationship had to change as a result of this transfer. At first, there was dissatisfaction and doubts. Salley’s relaxed attitude and seasoned expertise counterbalanced Jordan’s keen interest. He gained Jordan’s confidence and regard by offering humor and an alternative viewpoint. Collectively, they played a part in the Bulls’ second three-peat, demonstrating that friendship and respect could coexist with rivalry.

Their connection lasted even after they stopped playing professionally. Together, they made appearances at events where they discussed their shared past and gave insights into their special chemistry. They accepted in interviews that their transition from ferocious competitors to allies and friends was tricky.


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What do you think about how Salley and Jordan navigated their relationship? Let us know in the comments!

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Written by:

Daksh Saini


One take at a time

Daksh Saini is an NBA writer at Essentially Sports, where his passion for basketball converges with insightful analysis. Daksh specializes in crafting compelling articles that delve into the legacies of NBA legends. His unique perspective, coupled with a deep understanding of the game, allows him to offer readers nuanced commentary and engaging narratives focused on the iconic figures who have shaped the history of professional basketball.
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Edited by:

Caroline Joseph