Sports | May 2, 2020 7:00 am

Isiah Thomas: Michael Jordan Was Fourth-Best Player I Faced

The Baby-Faced Assassin is probably mad Jordan called him an asshole on TV

Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas at TD Garden in Boston. (Christopher Evans/Digital First Media/Boston Herald via Getty)
Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas at TD Garden in Boston. (Christopher Evans/Digital First Media/Boston Herald via Getty)
MediaNews Group via Getty Images

After knocking the Bulls out of the playoffs in 1988, 1989, and 1990, the Pistons finally fell to Michael Jordan’s boys from the Windy City in 1991 in the Eastern Conference finals in a four-game sweep. As the final seconds of Game 4 ticked off the clock, the members of Detroit’s team walked off the court and headed for the locker room without shaking hands with the Bulls.

The walk-out plan, which was concocted by Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer, still sticks in Jordan’s craw even though it’s been nearly 30 years since it happened, as was evident when Jordan called Thomas an asshole during the most recent installment of The Last Dance.

Though Thomas won’t publicly say it the way Jordan did, he still appears to have some harsh feelings toward the former Bull. (Some of which probably stem from Jordan supposedly keeping him off the Dream Team in 1992.)

In an interview with CBS Sports writer Bill Reiter, Thomas took a shot at Jordan when he was asked to rank the best players that he competed against in the NBA.

His list, in order:

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  2. Larry Bird
  3. Magic Johnson
  4. Michael Jordan
  5. Julius Erving

No disrespect to Abdul-Jabbar, Bird, Magic or Dr. J, but any list that doesn’t have Jordan at the top of it is clearly being made by someone with an agenda.

“When you put Jordan and his basketball team in the ’80s, they weren’t a very successful team,” Thomas said by way of explanation. “They just weren’t. When you talk about Jordan and his team dominating, they dominated the ’90s. But when you put him with those Lakers teams and those Pistons teams and those Celtics teams, they all beat him. They just did. What separated Jordan from all of us was he was the first one to three-peat. But he didn’t three-peat against Magic, Larry and Dr. J.”

Sounds like 30-year-old sour grapes.

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