NBA legend Michael Jordan currently finds himself in the midst of a (one-sided) feud with former teammate Scottie Pippen. The retired small forward called out Jordan in his new memoir, which included a number of pointed statements. Among them was the assertion that His Airness “ruined” basketball. Many have since weighed in on the matter, but it would seem at least one b-ball great is thinking about another of MJ’s famous relationships. Apparently, amid the drama, Shaquille O’Neal wants to set up a meeting between the Bulls great and one of his biggest on-court rivals.
Over the course of his career, Michael Jordan went head to head with some of the greatest players to ever set foot on a basketball court. Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and Magic Johnson are only a few of the legends to do battle with Air Jordan. While those rivalries were intense at times, there was one Detroit Pistons player who will forever be linked to Jordan. On a recent episode of The Big Podcast with Shaq, Shaquille O’Neal and his colleagues discussed player matchups they’d like to see, and panelist Spice named Jordan and Detroit Pistons icon Isiah Thomas as the one he wants to see. O’Neal then stated his intention to get them together for a sit-down:
There have been some impressive basketball TV specials over the past several years, but a conversation between those two players would be incredible. To say that the pair had a complicated relationship as players would be a gross understatement. Even today, fans continue to talk about the hard-fought matchups between their two teams.
The Chicago Bulls And Detroit Pistons Were Fierce Rivals In The ‘80s And ‘90s
Chicago native Isiah Thomas was drafted by the Detroit Pistons in 1981 and would go on to lead the team known infamously as “The Bad Boys.” The group, which consisted of players like Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman (before his Bulls stint) were known for their intense and physical style of play. Unfortunately for Michael Jordan’s Chicago team, they were on the receiving end of a number of the team’s hits. This led both groups to come to blows on a few occasions. These exchanges were covered on ESPN’s The Last Dance, and the scenes were so visceral for some that they took to social media and mistakenly threatened current player Isaiah Thomas.
The Pistons served as a key obstacle amid the Bulls’ attempts to reach the NBA Finals, and the team would ultimately win back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990. But Chicago would get over the hump in ‘91, sweeping Detroit in the Eastern Conference Finals. In the last seconds of the game, Isiah Thomas and many of his teammates controversially left the floor with 7.9 seconds left. And they neglected to shake hands with their opponents before leaving the building.
The 1992 U.S. Men’s Olympic Basketball Team May Have Also Been Affected By The Alleged Feud
The 1992 Summer Olympic Games marked the first time NBA players would be allowed to compete, and a “Dream Team” of the league’s best players was assembled. While the likes of Patrick Ewing and David Robinson were among those selected, Isiah Thomas was notably left off the roster. What made things even more awkward was the fact that Thomas’ Pistons coach, Chuck Daly, was taking on those duties for the U.S. team. Many believe that the future hall of famer’s exclusion was Michael Jordan’s one condition for joining the team. This has never been explicitly confirmed, though Magic Johnson once alleged in his book, When the Game Was Ours, that he, Jordan and others worked to keep Thomas out.
Today, things seem to have cooled somewhat, as both players have spoken highly of each other on certain occasions. The Space Jam star even thanked his former rival in his hall of fame speech. Still, given everything that’s transpired between them, an on-camera conversation could be tense. So please, Shaq, make this happen.
In the meantime, you can stream The Last Dance with a Netflix subscription. You can also check out some great 30 for 30 documentaries on ESPN+, including the Detroit Pistons-centric Bad Boys.
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