Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas feud stems all the way back to the 1980s when the two stars led their teams in some heated playoff battles. For the most part, Isiah got the better of Jordan, as he had the better teams for most of the rivalry.
Until 1991, when Jordan’s Bulls swept the Pistons and “Zeke” led a team walk-off before the final buzzer. That spilled over into Zeke saying he wasn’t chosen for the original “1992 Dream Team,” because MJ didn’t want him on it.
This despite being the second-best point guard in the league, behind close friend Magic Johnson. The beef didn’t begin there. It actually grew legs in 1984.
In a story rehashed by Inquisitr this week, it detailed when Jordan and Isiah’s relationship turned ugly.
The excerpt from MJ details the 1985 NBA All-Star Game, as where things may have begun to go south in their relationship.
Isiah Thomas after watching the “Last Dance”;
“Until I watched the Last Dance, I didn’t realize he (Michael Jordan) felt the way he felt about me.”
— Hoop Central (@TheHoopCentral) November 10, 2020
“If you go back and look at the film, you can see that Isiah was actually doing that. Once it started getting around that he was freezing me out, that’s when ill feelings started to grow between us.”
His “AirNess” is referring to Zeke doing his best to make sure he didn’t get the basketball in the All-Star Game. Maybe MJ is on to something, as he did go 2-9 for seven points and he took the least number of shots. Jordan talked about this during his hit documentary “The Last Dance,” which aired for 10 weeks during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Zeke disputes Jordan’s notion from the excerpt and documentary, saying this via tweet on Thursday.
Stop lying this story is not factual or accurate, tell the truth man. Dr.J, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Sidney Moncrief and I did not freeze you out. If memory serves me correct I was injured most of the second half and Bird had a broken nose. Magic and Sampson dominated the game. https://t.co/B000xZ2VGO
— Isiah Thomas (@IsiahThomas) July 7, 2022
Zeke’s Disdain For MJ Began In 1984
Before arriving in Chicago as the third pick in the 1984 NBA draft, MJ led Team USA to an Olympic gold medal that summer. The team was coached by legendary Indians Hoosiers coach Bobby Knight.
The very demanding Knight raved about Jordan to his former Indiana star Thomas prior to an exhibition between NBA stars and Team USA.
“This one a lil’ different now.”
Knight would go on to say this as well about Jordan.
“In the categories of competitiveness, ability, skills, and athleticism, Michael Jordan is the best I’ve ever seen.”
Here’s Bobby Knight explaining why Michael Jordan is the best basketball player he’s ever seen *before MJ had even played a single NBA game.*
— Super 70s Sports (@Super70sSports) July 25, 2020
That had to sting Thomas, who led Knight’s Hoosiers to the 1981 national championship. So in many aspects, Bobby Knight played a huge role in the creation of Jordan and Zeke’s very frigid relationship.
Jordan Takes Over Chicago, Zeke’s Hometown
To put the proverbial cherry on top following Zeke’s college coach raving about MJ, the Chicago Bulls drafted him. All he did was win Rookie of the Year and have his own shoe by his second season.
And while the on-court success he had as an individual didn’t immediately lead to championships, Jordan proved he was the game’s most talented player almost right away. In head-to-head matchups, Thomas’ teams got the better of Jordan’s team (12-10).
But while Jordan struggled to beat the Pistons with an inferior roster, he was never swept. But the minute he got some reinforcements in Basketball Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen and the gritty and steady Horace Grant, they swept Zeke and the Pistons, ending their quest to win back-to-back-to-back titles.
Jordan then went out and had himself two three-peats, and if not for a break following the tragic killing of his dad, many believe his Bulls teams would’ve won eight titles in a row. All this while Zeke’s family reportedly cheered for him, being Bulls fans.
So for Isiah to still be that bothered by an old comment or how he was portrayed in a documentary, proves furthermore how strong the dislike is between these two legendary hoopers. But it definitely bothers Zeke much more than MJ, who for all intents and purposes had the better career, but also got Zeke’s former coach and mentor, plus his family and city he grew up in raving about him.