There is one player that was just as deserving, if not most of being on the Dream Team and simply didn’t get chosen, it was former Detroit Pistons superstar Isiah Thomas. Thomas’ post-NBA playing career has been one that has seen many failures. He has struggled as a coach and executive, and many other undertakings by him professionally have flamed out. Those failures have come to cast a long, dark shadow over a brilliant career as the point guard of the Detroit Pistons. He should have been Magic Johnson’s backup, not John Stockton. Not a knock on Stockton, but he wasn’t Zeke. But there were forces behind the scenes that made sure that didn’t happen, and it was long-rumored he was black-balled by certain players when the team was put together. Both Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen, fierce rivals of Thomas, pretty much confirm that in the new Dream Team documentary.
“That was one of the stipulations put to me (on the team) that Isiah wasn’t part of the team,’’ Jordan said.
“Isiah was the general (of the Bad Boy Pistons),’’ Pippen said. “He was the guy who would yap at his teammates and say ‘Kick them on their ass. Do whatever you have to do.’ No, I didn’t want him on the Dream Team.’’
Russ Granik, an NBA executive, also confirms that the Isiah choosing to lead the Pistons off the court before the final buzzer of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Bulls was the nail in the coffin, and the NBA didn’t want that image being brought to Team USA. The Bulls swept the Pistons in 4 games, finishing it on the Pistons home court. Detroit and Chicago played one another 4 years in a row in the playoffs, and the Pistons had won the previous 3 meetings. The Bulls would begin their dynasty where they would win 6 NBA Titles, and they ended the Pistons run. Detroit wouldn’t win another playoff series for 10 years, and Isiah would retire 2 years following the infamous walk off.
Isiah was never a league favorite. He was also accused of organizing a freeze out of a young Michael Jordan in the 1985 All-Star game. Many have supposed that Jordan influenced the selection committee for the Dream Team as a way of retribution for that and many other incidences through the years of the Pistons and Bulls rivalries. Jordan took massive physical punishment from the Pistons for years, and Isiah was the captain, leader, and voice of the team. Isiah has continued to not receive the accolades and respect from peers and others in the league over the years, as many still disrespect him for the way he carried himself years ago, not that it has changed all that much.