The Last Dance has brought one of the most controversial matters of NBA history back to life: Why wasn’t Isiah Thomas a part of the 1992 Dream Team? We all know that was Michael Jordan’s team and they didn’t get along, so was MJ truly responsible for that?
Jordan and most of his teammates have categorically denied such accusations over and over. And up to this day, the story hasn’t changed whatsoever.
However, it’s worth noticing that this has been a matter of discussion for many years, and contrary to popular belief, Jordan wasn’t the only one that didn’t want to play with Zeke. As a matter of fact, even Magic Johnson stated back in 2009 that no one on the team actually wanted Thomas to be there:
“Isiah killed his own chances when it came to the Olympics. Nobody on that team wanted to play with him…I’m sad for Isiah. He has alienated so many people in his life, and he still doesn’t get it. He doesn’t understand why he wasn’t chosen for that Olympic team, and that’s really too bad. You should be aware when you have ticked off more than half of the NBA. If you went strictly on terms of ability, then Isiah should have been chosen for the Dream Team. But Michael didn’t want to play with him. Scottie wanted no part of him. Bird wasn’t pushing for him. Karl Malone didn’t want him. Who was saying, ‘We need this guy?’ Nobody. Michael got singled out as the guy that kept Isiah off, but that really isn’t fair. It was everybody. We all understood the camaraderie wouldn’t be the same,” Johnson told Jack McCallum for his book ‘Dream Team’.
Isiah is one of the greatest two-way players of all time and a guy that truly dominated his era. However, his attitude on and off the court rubbed the rest of the league in a bad way and perhaps that’s why he’s not talked and praised enough nowadays.
Skill-wise, he should’ve been a part of the team. In terms of fit, need, or egos, they had no room for it. And don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a matter of competitiveness. That team was stacked with competitors that were craving the chance to prove to their colleagues that they were the best on earth. That wasn’t the case.
If they wanted to solve it on the court, they would’ve actually pushed for Thomas to be a part of the team. That would’ve shown him first hand that they were – at least- as good as him. They, however, tried and humble him by showing him that he was the only superstar they didn’t want to coexist with, and that definitely sends a strong message.