The third and fourth episodes of The Last Dance look at a few pivotal turning points for Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls that help them begin their dynasty.
One is the firing of Doug Collins to make Phil Jackson head coach, bringing the triangle offense to Chicago, which Jordan wasn’t a fan of at the time. Another is the addition of former rival, Dennis Rodman, to the team for the second three-peat. Rodman entered the league with the Detroit Pistons and became a cornerstone of the Bad Boys era in which they won two titles and became the ultimate thorn in the Bulls side.
Jordan still hates most of the Pistons players from those teams, aside from Rodman, but no one is more reviled by Jordan and other Bulls players from the early 90s quite like Isiah Thomas. It was Jordan and Pippen that famously kept Thomas from being a part of the 1992 Dream Team roster, and their distaste for their former rival is still obvious to this day. A chief reason for this is how the Pistons chose to leave the floor in Game 4 of the 1991 conference finals as the Bulls were blowing them out.
Thomas led the way as the Pistons walked past the Bulls bench and off the floor without shaking their hands, with over seven seconds remaining on the clock. In The Last Dance, Thomas explains that they were just doing what the Celtics did to them in the late 80s when the Pistons finally knocked off Boston.
Jordan is handed a tablet to watch Thomas’ explanation, but before he prefaces it with a hilarious level of disdain for Thomas, noting nothing will keep him from still believing he was “an asshole.”
Jordan calling out Isiah Thomas' bullshit excuse "There's no way you can't convince me he wasn't an asshole" pic.twitter.com/T3TUUwVBZ1
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) April 27, 2020
“Well I know it’s all bullsh*t,” Jordan says as they pass him the tablet. “Whatever he says now, you know it wasn’t his true actions then. You know, there’s time enough to think about it or the reaction of the public has changed his perspective. You can show me anything you want, it’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t an asshole.”
They then roll the clip of Thomas explaining what happened, which gets some incredible facial expressions from Jordan along the way.
“Nah. Adrian Dantley was shooting a free throw, and the Boston Celtics were walking off during the game, and I grabbed McHale, and then he stopped as he was walking off the floor. That’s how they left the floor. And to us, that was OK. Knowing what we know now and the aftermath of what took place, I think all of us would stop and say, ‘Hey, congratulations’ like they do now. … We would’ve did it, of course we would’ve done it. But during that period of time that’s just not how it was passed. You lost, you left the floor.”
Jordan’s “I told you so” face after Isiah says, “Knowing what we know now,” is one of the funniest moments of the first four episodes of the documentary. It’s clear the animosity between all parties — or, at least, Jordan towards Thomas and the Pistons — has not faded all that much with time, despite it being nearly 30 years since they played against each other.