Larry Bird Was Taken Aback by Pistons Legend's Absence from Dream Team

  • 19.09.2023 16:45:40

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The 1992 Olympic Dream Team is one of the most iconic groups in the history of basketball. It featured some of the greatest players of all time, including Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Larry Bird. However, one notable exclusion from the team was Isiah Thomas. The beef between Jordan and Thomas was highly publicized. As such, MJ made it clear he did not want Isiah on his team. Accepting his request, USA Basketball left Zeke out of the squad. But, as revealed in the book When the Game Was Ours, Bird, for one, was taken aback by his absence.

Thomas was the leader of the Detroit Pistons. At the time, the team was the most notorious in the league and had earned the moniker, 'the Bad Boy Pistons'. Their harsh, and overly rough playstyle led to them ruffling many feathers, especially those of Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, and Michael Jordan.

Larry Bird was surprised to learn of Isiah Thomas' exclusion from the Dream Team

Back in the day, Larry Bird had many clashes with Isiah Thomas and the Detroit Pistons. As such, he knew better than most just how exceptional a talent Zeke was, despite his distaste for him. So, when he learned that Thomas would not be included in the 1992 Dream Team, he was shocked. After all, the Pistons guard was one of the best in the NBA.

In hindsight, however, Larry Legend's surprise may have been unfounded. By the time selections for the team came around, the beef between Thomas and USA Basketball's talisman, Michael Jordan was beyond public. So much so, that Jordan had made it clear he was unwilling to share the backcourt with the Pistons legend.

MJ felt he had been disrespected by Thomas on more than one occasion. First, the Piston was allegedly involved in the All-Star freeze-out of MJ, in 1985. Apart from this, Thomas and the Pistons also walked off the court after losing to Jordan the Bulls in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. This was heralded as the ultimate sign of disrespect, as Detroit refused to shake their opponents' hands.

"Bird was startled that Thomas didn't make the cut. He shouldn't have been. Jordan had made it clear that he wanted no part of playing alongside Thomas in the backcourt. Michael had not forgotten the All Star freeze-out in 1985 or the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, when the Bulls supplanted the Pistons in the East and Isiah, Bill Laimbeer, and Mark Aguirre walked off the court with four seconds left on the game clock rather than congratulate the Bulls. It was a blatant sign of disrespect that was roundly condemned throughout the league."


It has been 31 years since the Dream Team won Gold in Barcelona, but Isiah's exclusion is still a highly debated subject. Several legends have come out and given their two cents on the matter, with some even coming out in support of Thomas. However, the subject remains a touchy one for the Pistons legend.

Karl Malone denied having anything to do with Isiah's exclusion from the Dream Team

Over the years, many legends have come out of the woodwork to discuss Isiah Thomas' exclusion from the Dream Team. After all, especially following the release of The Last Dance, it remains a highly debated subject. While the documentary refrained from confirming the presence of an alliance against Isiah, the rumors that Michael Jordan did not want to play with him, were beyond corroborated.

Recently, Karl Malone, who also featured on the Dream Team addressed this controversy. Speaking to Thomas one-on-one, The Mailman swore on his own mother that he had nothing to do with his exclusion.


To this day, Isiah Thomas' exclusion continues to bewilder NBA players, legends, analysts, and fans alike. Whether there was a secret meeting or not, it feels like we may never know why exactly the Hall of Famer never made the cut.

Source thesportsrush - Nithin Joseph


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