Fred Jewell / Associated Press
Michael Jordan denied being directly involved in Isiah Thomas and being left out of the Dream Team for the Olympics The last dance documentary but he previously provided a different version of the events to the old Sports Illustrated writer Jack McCallum.
McCallum started a Dream Team Cassettes podcast with audio clips of past interviews featuring many of the players from the US Barcelona Games, including a Monday featuring Jordan talking about Thomas (via Dan Feldman of NBC Sports).
“Rod Thorn called me. I said, “Rod, I won’t be playing if Isiah Thomas is on the team,” said MJ. “He assured me. He said, ‘You know what? Chuck [Daly] don’t want Isiah. So Isiah will not be on the team. “”
Thorn, the executive in charge of creating the 1992 Olympic squad, denied that Jordan made reference to Thomas during their discussions in an April interview with ESPN. Golic & Wingo.
“There was never anything in my conversation with [Jordan] it had to do with Isiah Thomas, period, “said Thorn, who appointed Jordan as general manager of the Chicago Bulls in 1984.” He said, “I’m going to do it.” … Isiah’s name never came up in this conversation. And he never backtracked and said that he didn’t want to do it from that point on, to those of us in the NBA office. ”
The last dance highlighted Thomas’s problems in the field with Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, three of the Dream Team’s superstars. The legend of the bulls said “It was not me” that prevented Thomas from being on the list, but admitted that sentiment around the team would have changed if the Detroit Pistons star had been chosen.
“The Dream Team, based on the environment and the camaraderie that happened in this team … it was the best harmony,” Jordan said in the ESPN documentary. “Would Isiah have made a different feeling in this team? Yes. “
It’s ultimately a question of semantics.
Jordan was not the roster, so the last call to know if Thomas was on the team was not his, but whether he had USA Basketball chosen between himself or the a 31-year-old playmaker, the choice would have been obvious, despite Thomas’ solid resume.
Thomas, who in 2000 was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility, shared his feelings about the situation on ESPN. Get up after the episode that featured a discussion about his snub released in April:
Get up @GetUpESPN
“Looking back, if I am not part of the Dream Team because of a lack of emotion in terms of not shaking someone’s hand … then I am more disappointed today than I would was at the time. “
Isiah Thomas is still “injured” at being excluded from the Dream Team. https://t.co/YkRt8zIY09
The Dream Team dominated the competition in Barcelona, beating their opponents by an average of 43.8 points, including a 32-point triumph over Croatia in the gold medal match.
Thomas’ presence is unlikely to have made a big difference on the ground.