Michael Jordan is known to have never lost any NBA Finals, winning six championships in the process. But before he won his first championship in 1991, he just could not get past the Pistons.
Although the Pistons dominated the Chicago Bulls in the late 1980s, it was not due to their brilliance in the game. Granted, they had exceptional talents like Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, and Dennis Rodman, but they had the edge because of their style of play.
The "Bad Boy" Pistons were bullies, and they knew it. Their dogged defense was not based on technicality but force, as they would rather send you to the line than have you attack their rim.
While these tactics were in place for every team, they had a special way of playing Jordan. It was called the "Jordan Rules," which was mainly to do everything in their power to stop him from going to the baseline, forcing him to go left, and most importantly, making sure they kept him grounded in any attempt to drive through the lane.
Jordan was being knocked about for three straight years from 1988-1990. The scheme was working, as they eliminated Jordan and the Bulls from the playoffs in those years.
A friend and Los Angeles Lakers legend James Worthy was surprised with how Jordan came out of that situation with the Bulls without sustaining a major injury. He made an appearance in Jordan's The Last Dance Documentary and said:
“Detroit had Jordan Rules just for Michael. I don’t know how he came out of it alive.”
Michael hated the Pistons, saying they are undeserving champions and are bad for basketball, but they got away with playing like so. In that era, they won two NBA titles in three Finals appearances.
MJ got tired of being pushed around and exacted revenge on the Pistons. He found a way to break the "Jordan Rules" and led the charge to sweep the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals.
Outside of the Lakers-Celtics rivalry, that is perhaps the second greatest rivalry in league history. To date, Jordan still admits that he hates that team for how they played and what they did to him.