On Sunday night, we got to see a little more detail about the heated rivalry between the Chicago Bulls of Michael Jordan and the 'Bad Boys' Detroit Pistons. 'The Last Dance' third and fourth episode recalled the quest of the Bulls for their first championship and how difficult it was for them to get there until they beat the Pistons.
Detroit always pushed Michael Jordan, they became a nightmare for His Airness and company, physically and mentally. They even created the 'Jordan rules' to try to stop the GOAT whenever they faced him.
“We knew how important to the NBA it was to get Michael to go to the next level,” former Pistons big man John Salley said during the doc. “The blueprint was Larry [Bird], Magic [Johnson], now Michael. And all of a sudden, there was this little team in Detroit who just messed up the whole story. We loved that.”
“We knew Michael Jordan was the greatest player, and we tried to use it as a rallying cry to come together,” Isiah Thomas said. “We had to do everything from a physicality standpoint to stop him.”
Brendan Malone, former Pistons assistant coach, explained a little better how Isiah Thomas, Salley, and the rest of the Bad Boys made the day hard for MJ.
“This is what the Jordan Rules were,” Malone said. “On the wings, we’re going to push him to the elbow and we’re not gonna let him drive to the baseline. Number two, when he’s on top, we’re gonna influence him to his left. When he got the ball in the low post, we’re gonna trap him from the top. That’s the Jordan Rules, and it was that simple.”
If somehow he managed to get past those obstacles, Malone said they had another trick under the sleeve.
“That’s when [Bill] Laimbeer and [Rick] Mahorn would go up and knock him down to the ground,” Malone said.
Salley even explained how the refs acted during those plays, as they never tried to protect MJ as they do right now.
"When we played 'Jordan' rules, the referees never looked at MJ and see if he was injured after a hard foul, none of that protecting "the savior" superstar like they do today. They didn't do that," Salley added.
Even MJ recalled how things happened between him and the Pistons, stating that he hates them and the hate carries to these days.
“Oh, I hated them,” Jordan said. “That hate carries even to this day. They made it personal, they physically beat the sh*t out of us.”
Even though there is bad blood between them, there is no doubt that Jordan made the Pistons a better team and Detroit made MJ a better player.