Michael Jordan still holds grudge about Isiah Thomas handshake skip

April 27 (UPI) -- Michael Jordan still "hates" the 1990s Detroit Pistons and holds a grudge about how the team skipped the handshake line after they lost to his Chicago Bulls in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals.

Jordan spoke about the rivalry as part of his The Last Dance documentary series, which aired two episodes Sunday on ESPN. The episodes featured scenes from the physical rivalry between the two storied squads.


The Pistons dominated Jordan's Bulls with their physicality early on before the Bulls overcame the obstacle and swept the series in 1991. After the final game, the Pistons and star guard Isiah Thomas walked off the court without shaking hands with Jordan and the Bulls. Thomas said Pistons big man Bill Laimbeer asked his team not to shake hands with the Bulls.

Jordan and Thomas both spoke about the sequence 30 years later, but Jordan didn't see Thomas' explanation as genuine.

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"I hated them," Jordan said. "That hate carries over even to this day."


The Bulls went on to beat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals that post-season. The Pistons were criticised for their lack of sportsmanship by other players and in newspapers after they skipped the handshake line.

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"Knowing what we know now, in the aftermath of what took place, I think all of us would've stopped and said 'Hey, congratulations,' like they do now," Thomas said. "We would've did it. Of course we would've done it."

Jordan was shown a video of Thomas' answer to the question about how he felt about the Pistons' walk off.

"I know it's all [expletive]," Jordan said. "What he says now, you know it wasn't his true actions then. He's had time enough to think about it, or the reaction of the public has changed his perspective of it.

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"You can show me anything you want, there's no way you can convince me he wasn't an [expletive]."

Jordan brought up the fact that he always shook hands with Pistons players in the Bulls' previous series losses. He also said the Bulls' wins over the Pistons were somewhat better than winning a championship.

Jordan averaged 29.8 points, 7.0 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game in the series against Detroit. Thomas averaged 16.5 points, 6.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game for the Pistons. The Bulls went on to win six of the next seven NBA Finals titles after beating the Pistons in the 1990-1991 post-season.


Episodes 5 and 6 of The Last Dance air at 9 p.m. EDT Sunday on ESPN.

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