The Last Dance spent some time on the Dream Team, with a major emphasis on how his time in Barcelona served as Michael Jordan taking the baton from Larry Bird and Magic Johnson as the face of the NBA. There was also, as is oftentimes the case with Dream Team retrospectives, a little time set aside on Isiah Thomas not making the squad.
In the doc, Jordan made it clear that he had nothing to do with Thomas missing out on the Dream Team, despite the fact that Thomas was one of the best players in the world at his position. Jordan went as far as to say “it was insinuated that I was asking about him, but I never threw his name in there,” a claim that raised a number of eyebrows, if only because it just didn’t sound right for a number of people.
The documentary ended last Sunday, while the Dream Team episode aired several weeks ago. But in recent days, some old audio has cast doubts on Jordan’s claims from the doc. Jordan spoke to Jack McCallum for his 2012 book, Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever, and in McCallum’s new podcast “The Dream Team Tapes,” he played the audio of Jordan drawing a line in the sand with Thomas.
Was listening to Jack McCallum's Dream Team Tapes and he pulled out audio from a Jordan interview in 2011 where MJ admitted telling Rod Thorn he didn't want Isiah on the team. #TheLastDance pic.twitter.com/XvfTY4vfZb
— JustTIM (@ReignCoates) May 25, 2020
“When they called me to ask me to play, Rod Thorn called me,” Jordan said on the podcast. “I said, ‘Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.’ He assured me, he said, ‘You know what? Chuck doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team.'”
McCallum made the point that no one on earth would have picked Thomas to make the team if it meant Jordan wouldn’t suit up, as Jordan was a better player and the team’s point guards — Johnson and John Stockton — were stars. Still, one of the major critiques of The Last Dance was how it painted a very specific portrait of Jordan that did not always gel with reality, and the emergence of this audio will help those who have made that argument.