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Isiah Thomas regrets walking off the floor without shaking hands following ’91 playoff loss to Jordan’s Bulls

Oct 3, 2013, 9:28 PM EDT

In the ’80s and early ’90s, the Eastern Conference featured dominant teams that managed to stay on top for several seasons before being dethroned by the next in line.

The Celtics had the East on lockdown, before finally being unseated by the Detroit Pistons. The Bad Boys era led by Isiah Thomas yielded back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990, before Michael Jordan’s Bulls took control in the 1991 season.

Detroit didn’t exactly embrace the end of its era. After beating the Bulls in hard-fought playoff series in each of the previous two seasons, the Pistons were swept in the Conference Finals on their home floor, and didn’t bother sticking around for the ceremonial handshakes that traditionally come following the final buzzer.

Thomas regrets that decision all these years later, and says in an upcoming episode of NBA TV’s Open Court (seen in the video clip above) that if he had it to do over again, he and his teammates would have stayed on the court to pay their proper respect to Jordan and the Bulls.

  1. buddypuddy - Oct 3, 2013 at 9:40 PM

    Isiah, you were a beautiful athlete to watch and I go all the way back to your days at St. Joseph HS. But your petulance over the years has diminished my appreciation of you. This is a good first step.

  2. dvic13 - Oct 3, 2013 at 9:53 PM

    Wow never thought I would hear this from him. Shame he’s a Chicago guy, but no one I know claims him.

  3. johngalt1783 - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    I can understand feeling bad about doing something and making amends for it. However, I have never believed in the “If I had to do it all over again I would have done it differently” I think the STNG show “Tapestry” pretty much sums up why I don’t believe in the “If I had it to do all over again I would have done it differently” thinking. Thomas is probably not at Star Trek fan.

    • legacysquest7 - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:52 PM

      Get over it. This is not the first time that Isiah stated that he regretted that. Isiah first stated this, without being asked, while working as a commentator for NBC, during the years when NBC hosted the games. He initially said that he regretted not shaking hands with Jordan, while at the Bulls game back during the late 90’s during M.J. first come back year.

      We all have done some things in our lives that we regret. What I find funny is, many of the critics are the first and quick to deny their faults. And lord knows that M.J. is an arrogant player himself. Just ask Bill Cartwright. Bill threaten to break both of his legs after he tried to slander his name because he was salty about, “the old man” replacing, Charles Oakley.

      Last. He also explained why they had done it. Does it excuse what he had done? Not really. But it makes a lot of sense, vs someone that was just salty because they’d lost. He made an excellent point about others not getting shunned for playing Piston like ball. Celtics were known for playing dirty basketball before the “Bad Boys” era. Look at some of the old Bird and Magic rivals. The irony in this is, Bird called the Pistons a dirty team. Comical.

  4. kb2408 - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:42 PM

    LeBron, KG and Pierce have all walked off the court in the playoffs without shaking hands, so why is it still a big deal that Isiah did it? IMO, he has always gotten a bad rap. So what he was petulant. Bird and MJ weren’t the most liked guys in the league either. Even on their own teams. Isiah got screwed out of taking his rightful place on the Dream Team because he didn’t bow down to “Michael the Great.” And the Bad Boy Pistons have never gotten their proper respect as one of the greatest teams ever. They probably should have 3 straight championships.

    • legacysquest7 - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:58 PM

      Great points. What’s also not being addressed here is, Isiah stated back during the late 90’s that he regretted not shaking hands with Jordan after the lost. I remember him saying that to this day. And ironically I had recently thought about that. It was during the time when Jordan came out of his first retirement; during his commenter years working at NBC, when they hosted the games back during the 90’s, Isiah was commenting at one of the Bulls game and out of nowhere he said that he regretted doing that. No one asked him. He said it on his own.

    • dbfdbf - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:10 AM

      The Pistons did it first.

    • satevejoy - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:32 AM

      Finally somebody with some sense and knowledge of NBA Basketball history! I was and still am a Piston fan and you’re right, they (Bad Boys) never got the respect they deserved in NBA history! New York was tough, Boston was tough and dirty but nobody talked negative about them. What about Philly, Milwaukee? Al the Eastern conference teams played smash-mouth basketball. Heck MJ even said in his recent interview, back then if you came in the paint, you knew there would be a penalty because teams protected the pain and the refs allowed it! And what Zeke said is true, the Bulls and the media blasted Detroit and called us thugs and everything else.

      What I don’t like is, after all this time saying it profits you nothing. MJ and Scottie are not now going to come and say, “We regret not wanting you on the Dream Team”. It’s a done deal, it’s not going to improve your image. Be who you are Zeke, you did it and some of us understand!

    • jjsjmls - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      LeBron, KG and Pierce have all walked off the court in the playoffs BEFORE THE GAME WAS OVER to avoid shaking hands? Oh, that’s right…no, they didn’t. Only Isiah and his fellow classless Pistons did that. It’s one thing to leave after the game is over without shaking hands – it is an entirely different thing to leave before the game ends, march right past the opposing team’s bench, and make a spectacle of your refusal to shake hands.

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 5, 2013 at 12:55 PM

      That punk Laimbeer’s the reason they didn’t.

  5. antistratfordian - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:44 PM

    Hey, you get what you give. After game 3 Jordan and Pippen did say some disrespectful things…

    Jordan said “people don’t want this kind of basketball. people are happy that the game is going to get back to a clean game. the bad-boy image is bad for basketball” and he went on like that for about 30 minutes.

    Pippen said Rodman had “mental problems” and needed to be locked up. He said that it wasn’t right that people like Rodman are free to walk the streets. And it wasn’t trash talk – he was talking about a real medical condition.

    Now, you can understand the Pistons point of view… who do these dudes think they are? We’re the defending champs! You’ve never won anything and you’re going to come to our city and hold a press conference just to disrespect us? So, I don’t really blame them.

    You get what you give.

  6. purenrg77 - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    His rightful place on the Dream Team because he wouldn’t bow down to MJ? A handshake would have worked too but he couldn’t do that either.

  7. raycharlesj - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:19 PM

    Move on from the soap opera, it’s just all about the sports entertainment in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s there were just so many more good teams back then it was a joy to watch for those 30 years I could care less about the off the court or after the game drama. thanks for the on the court competition league wide though.

  8. rickrock6661982 - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:55 PM

    Unless you were a Pistons fan back then, you just didn’t understand why they did what they did. At the time, their reasons were absolutely valid. But in an era before the internet, with Detroit being the “bad boys” and with Jordan being the face of the league, you can see who was painted as the victim.

    It’s also fine to show some remorse now after so many years. Too bad you’ll never hear Jordan do the same. But that’s what made him who he was.

    On a side note, I noticed that Sir Charles was nowhere to be found. Otherwise known as Michael’s BFF.

  9. dbfdbf - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:09 AM

    First of all, Bill Lambier was a thug! Second, so was Dennis Rodman! There was a good reason the Pistons were called the “Bad Boys”.

  10. peehergriphon - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:18 AM

    2 decades too late. Finally not acting like a teenager.

  11. jaypace - Oct 4, 2013 at 2:57 AM

    Isiah wasn’t kept off the dream team because he “didn’t bow down to Michael the great”. He was kept off the team because USA basketball wanted the biggest star in the game and the world, who also didn’t care much for Isiah. So it’s grow the game internationally or have Isaiah on the team. C’mon son you know which way that’s going. Furthermore his handling of the Knicks greatly hurt his rep. But he was one of the all time great point guards.

    • vi3tguy415 - Oct 4, 2013 at 12:56 PM

      “wanted a bigger star”…are you stupid? he was one of the biggest star. they chose a college kid over him. u telling me he was a bigger than isiah? don’t open your mouth and start typing without having any knowledge.

  12. datruth2100 - Oct 4, 2013 at 3:38 AM

    If anyone read the “dream team” they’d know it wasn’t just Jordan who didn’t want him on the team. Pippen, Malone, and Barkley didn’t want him there either. Also magic Johnson was one of his best friends and he didn’t go to bat for him. Chuck Daly who was his head coach as well as the dream team coach didn’t go to bat for him. Whoever Stockton got hurt and almost missed the Olympics they were going to replace him with Joe dumars not Thomas. I think the only reason he’d want to do it differently is because he thinks that is one the main reasons that he wasn’t chosen for the Olympics.

  13. isujames - Oct 4, 2013 at 7:01 AM

    Two words for Ike, sore loser.

  14. chi01town - Oct 4, 2013 at 8:21 AM

    Isiah the Bulls didnt take it personal. the Bad Boys were a great
    team and they made Chicago STRONG enough to win 6 titles. Jordan knows that you had to be the Bad Boys leader the same as he had to lead the Chicago Bulls.

  15. cantonbound13 - Oct 4, 2013 at 10:04 AM

    Great player, bad person, horrible manager. He’s trying hard to get back to coaching or managing. Any owner with a clue will not touch this scum.

    • jimeejohnson - Oct 5, 2013 at 12:57 PM

      If anyone’s an expert on scum it’s you.

      • cantonbound13 - Oct 6, 2013 at 4:35 PM

        Get a life troll. I’m surprised you sprung for wifi in the trailer.

  16. azarkhan - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    I thought that was one of the best things the Bad Boys ever did. Screw Michael Jordan and the Jordanaires.

  17. asublimeday - Oct 5, 2013 at 3:39 AM

    The bad boys were a bunch of babies. Glad we embarrassed them.

  18. qedfyi - Oct 5, 2013 at 10:19 PM

    Isiah Thomas is a total fraud as a person: he was a great player but is a pathological liar. He has a very fake sincerity. Cannot tolerate him on TV because he always says what the audience wants to hear. Totally takes advantage of other people’s trust in him. The NBA equal of Madoff.

  19. charlescub80 - Oct 5, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    Isaiah wasn’t on the dream team because Jordan wouldn’t play with him. Jordan or Isaiah? Hmmmm….

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