Bad boys, bad blood.
There have been few rivalries as vitriolic and hate-filled as the late ’80s Bulls teams and the “Bad Boy” Pistons teams. If Michael Jordan’s demeanor and responses in Episode 3 of ESPN’s “The Last Dance,” that bad blood is still boiling today.
“I hated them, and the hate carries to this day,” Jordan said.
It didn’t end there, though.
“You can show me anything you want. There’s no way you’re gonna convince me he wasn’t an a—hole,” Jordan said of Pistons guard Isiah Thomas.
The quote came after the analysis of the Pistons walking off the court without shaking hands with Bulls players following their loss in the 1990 Eastern Conference Finals. Thomas tried to put in perspective that
“When we showed up, it was almost like we were crashing their party,” Thomas said. ” … You can go back and look at those old games or whatever. When you lost, you left the floor.”
Suffice to say, Jordan wasn’t a fan of party crashers. The Pistons overtook the Celtics as the darlings and best team in the Eastern Conference, advancing to three straight NBA Finals, winning the Larry O’Brien Trophy in 1989 and 1990 while knocking off the Bulls in three straight years. The Bulls, led by an angry and beefed-up Jordan, finally knocked off Detroit in 1990.
Following those three-straight eliminations — and beat-downs at the hands of the Bad Boys — Jordan and the rest of the Bulls put on muscle up, hoping to “administer pain” on Detroit rather than being bullied and pushed around due to the “Jordan rules.”
It worked. The Bulls broke through in 1990 en route to their first championship of six they’d win with Jordan at the helm. But had it not been for those Pistons teams, there’s a small possibility that Jordan wouldn’t be the championship-winning Jordan of basketball legend.
Pain heals, chicks dig scars, Jordan’s hate for Thomas lasts forever.