‘Should Have Been on the Team’: Magic Johnson Reflects on Why Isiah Thomas Was Left Off the Dream Team

Published 03/29/2021, 6:31 AM EDT
LOS ANGELES, CA – JUNE 24: Isiah Thomas attends a WNBA game between the Los Angeles Sparks and the New York Liberty on June 24, 2018, at Staples Center, in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)


Isiah Thomas being omitted from the 1992 Olympic ‘Dream Team’ is still one of the most befuddling basketball decisions in history. Up until that point, Thomas was one of the best point guards in the NBA. Furthermore, he had championship pedigree, having won two NBA championships to close out the 1980s. But that wasn’t enough to get him to Barcelona.

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Magic talks about Isiah Thomas snub

NBA legend and ‘Dream Team’ member Magic Johnson addressed the Isiah Thomas snub on a recent podcast. Magic noted that Thomas was supposed to be on the team, and his talent warranted his presence. However, his animosity with other notable members of the team was a major factor in Thomas not being asked to participate.

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Magic said, “He was supposed to be on the team… Talent-wise, without a doubt he should have been on the team. He just had problems with so many guys on that team, or they had problems with him. And so, they let it be known that they didn’t want to play if he was going to be on the team. And that’s what really kept him off the team.”

Isiah alienated ‘Dream Team’ players

Magic added that Thomas’ problems with other members of the team stemmed from the Detroit Pistons. The ‘Bad Boy’ Pistons dominated the late 80s, with their rough physical play, and them getting success through their rough play caused resentment and anger. But Thomas was still deserving of a spot on the ‘Dream Team’, more so than John Stockton.

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SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 24: Isiah Thomas attends 2019 NBA Awards at Barker Hangar on June 24, 2019 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/WireImage)

Magic added, “The Pistons. And I think that that cost him. Isiah and I was boys, so we were close friends. I thought he was going to be on it and were going to have some good times together. And it just didn’t happen and commissioner Stern decided to go in another direction… Daley is coaching the team, and you’re not there. And he’s a much better player than John Stockton, no question about it.”

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Should Isiah Thomas have been on the ‘Dream Team’? There are many fans who believe that he deserved a place in the squad. However, other members of the team came out and said that Thomas being present would have disrupted the chemistry and camaraderie around the team. But Thomas being snubbed remains one of the most controversial NBA stories to this day.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1313 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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