The rivalry between Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan is one of the most well known stories in all of basketball. Their playoff battles are famous tales in the history, but so are the off-court battles that have led to both players still being rivals with each other 30 years later. Recently, former Detroit Pistons ‘Bad Boy’ John Salley gave his insights into this unique rivalry.
In an interview with The Sporting News, Salley said, “Isiah goes home, and his nephew is wearing a Bulls jersey, a Michael Jordan Bulls jersey. He said, ‘Hey, what you doing?’ ‘We in Chicago. That’s my team.’ It’s his nephew. He was not really understanding that the great Isiah Thomas plays for Detroit, we don’t wear that. We wear this. ‘But I’m from Chicago. I’m down with the Bull movement.’ Isiah was mad at that. Not to Michael, personally. In his brain, ‘Every time I play against this dude, I’m gonna try to go off so my nephew sees this is the jersey you should wear.’ Never at Michael.”
Magic Johnson Stopped Isiah Thomas’s Inclusion In The 1992 Olympic Dream Team
Salley also revealed that it was Magic Johnson who stopped Isiah Thomas’s inclusion in the 1992 Olympic Dream team.
Salley added, “That was the craziest thing. When you hear the story, in Magic’s words, Magic says on his documentary that he’s the reason Isiah didn’t get on the squad. Magic said he blocked it.”
While this rivalry is definitely a lot deeper than a jersey, it is quite wild to think that was the reason of Isaih’s dislike for Jordan. This feud got a lot worse over the course of their playoff battles, eventually leading to a bad reputation of Thomas around the league.
It is believed that Magic Johnson wanted to protect the sanctity of the team and he did so at Isiah’s expense. But even Magic has looked back at that decision and regretted it. It’s quite intriguing to think about the relationship these players shared in the 90’s, but hopefully, the players can let bygones be bygones.