While the “Bad Boy” Pistons weren’t known for their politeness on the basketball court, the decision not to shake the hands of their Chicago competitors after being beaten in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals is seen as one of their biggest blunders.
Instead of showing good sportsmanship to the Bulls, they simply walked off the court at the end of the game/series — an act of ultimate disrespect in the sporting world.
But fans on social media are giving credit to the only three players on that team who stayed behind — John Salley, Joe Dumars, and Vinnie Johnson.
Pistons walked off in 1991 but John Salley congratulated Jordan, Pippen, and Horace. He didn’t walk off.
Salley was an incredibly versatile, a must-have chemistry player, he also won two championships with Phil Jackson (1996 & 2000)
And what a great storyteller he is! pic.twitter.com/CWe1JayS7m
— OLDSKOOLBBALL (@Oldskoolbball1) April 26, 2020
John Salley, Joe Dumars, and Vinnie Johnson should be commended for actually shaking hands with Chicago.
— Tangiers59 (@Bradisom85) April 27, 2020
Of course, Isiah Thomas recently came up with an explanation for the actions of his team.
(via The Last Dance)
Adrian Dantley was shooting a free throw, and the Boston Celtics were walking off during the game. I grabbed [Kevin] 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 have stopped and said “Hey congratulations,” like they do now. We would have did it, of course we would have done it. But during that period of time, that’s just not how it was passed.
When you lost, you left the floor. That was it.
In response, Jordan called it straight up bull-s–t and insisted that Thomas was a jerk. Needless to say, he’s not the only one that isn’t buying it.
Pistons walk-off, it was a “Bad Boys” move and it was OK.
Teams fought, threw punches but every team congratulated each other in 1980s.
(Celtics walked off in 1988 due to security concerns)
Isiah should stop explaining and say, “f*ck the Bulls, that’s our way”, and continue. pic.twitter.com/blpCKpATHQ
— OLDSKOOLBBALL (@Oldskoolbball1) April 27, 2020
Interestingly, Dumars explained why he stayed behind that day:
(via The Odd Couple Podcast)
“It never even dawned on me to not shake their hands,” the former Pistons guard explained. “Previous years we had beaten them, and we had ended their season. I can just tell you that every single time that we eliminated them, Mike found me, shook my hand, just whispered, ‘Tough battle. Great battle. Good luck in the Finals.’ So when we were walking off, I saw him. I stopped and said the exact same thing to him.”
Many in the NBA community are still disgusted by what I.T. and the Pistons did back then. And while there’s no going back on that now, perhaps it’s comforting for some to know that not all the players neglected one of the biggest expressions of sportsmanship in professional sports.
Props to Salley, Dumars, and Johnson for handling their loss the right way.