Newly released audio contradicts what Michael Jordan vehemently denied in The Last Dance documentary series: that he was behind Isiah Thomas' infamous Dream Team snub for the 1992 Olympic Games.
'DAMN SNITCH': Teammate savages Michael Jordan's 'complete lie'
'BUSH LEAGUE': Andrew Bogut's stunning swipe at NBL
Thomas - a two-time NBA champion with the Detroit Pistons and one of the best point guards in the league - was surprisingly left off the American team that claimed gold at the Barcelona Games.
There has been a long-held belief in the basketball world that Jordan was behind Thomas' exclusion from the team, stemming from the bad blood they experienced as Eastern Conference rivals in the NBA Finals.
“I respect Isiah Thomas’ talent. To me, the best point guard of all-time is Magic Johnson. And right behind him is Isiah Thomas. No matter how much I hate him. And I respect his game."- Michael Jordan #TheLastDance pic.twitter.com/sX1xhzVGhW— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) May 4, 2020
Jordan denied his role in the decades-long belief that he was involved in Thomas’ exclusion during Episode 5 of ESPN's hit documentary series on the Chicago Bulls.
That episode aired three weeks ago and now newly released audio of Jordan tells a completely different story.
Jordan heard saying he won’t play with Thomas
Jordan’s denial story took a hit when sportswriter Jack McCallum released audio from Jordan on the third episode of his podcast, “The Dream Team Tapes.” It was released Monday.
“Rod Thorn called me,” Jordan said. “I said, ‘Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.’ He assured me. He said, ‘You know what? [Coach] Chuck [Daly] doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team.’”
McCallum’s podcast covers the “real story” of the first Olympic team with NBA stars and includes interviews with the players. The Jordan audio is from 2011 when McCallum was writing a book about the team, which won gold in Barcelona.
Jordan denies involvement in Thomas snub on coco
Chicago Bulls superstar Jordan spent the fourth episode of The Last Dance detailing his hatred for the Detroit Pistons great.
It led into the second hour of the night when the 1992 Dream Team was discussed and Jordan denied he was involved in keeping Thomas off the team, even giving the player a compliment.
“You want to attribute it to me, go ahead and be my guest. But it wasn’t me,” Jordan said.
Jordan had denied the accusation for years before the 10-episode docu-series aired.
He did say on the series that it was Thomas’ personality, not the player’s résumé, that kept him off the squad. He said several players had issues with Thomas and that it would hurt the group’s chemistry - a comment that has been substantiated by other players too.
But that’s quite different than refusing to play if a certain player is on the roster.
Dream Team exec backs story
Thorn, a Hall of Fame basketball executive who put the team together, also said it never happened during an appearance on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo.”
In his pre-Olympics conversation offering a spot to Jordan, he said Thomas never came up.
And if the NBA champion had lobbied for the exclusion, it was news to him.
"Now, if that in fact happened, then it happened with somebody else,” Thorn continued. ... “He didn't say anything to me about [Thomas], and I certainly had no reason to bring it up, either.”
Thomas ‘hurt’ he was left off Dream Team
Thomas addressed “The Last Dance” episodes involving his Pistons and the “Bad Boys” Pistons-Bulls rivalry. He said he was disappointed he missed out on competing for the 1992 Olympic team.
“I know the criteria of selection for making the team,” Thomas said on ESPN’s “Get Up.” “I fit all the criteria. And that’s a big hole in my résumé. That’s the biggest hole in my résumé.”
Thomas didn’t fully address the speculation about who held him off the team.
with Yahoo Sports US