There haven’t been many better and hateful rivalries between players in NBA history than the one between Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas. They faced each other in numerous exciting playoff battles between the Bulls and the Pistons, as MJ ended the infamous « Bad Boys » era and took the crown of the Eastern Conference. It got so bad that the Pistons wouldn’t shake hands after getting swept by the Bulls in the first round of the 1991 Playoffs. That would eventually lead to Isiah being left out of the « Dream Team » due to MJ demanding it’s either him or Isiah.
The bad blood between the two greats didn’t end even after their careers, as the animosity is evident in their statements. One of the most notable examples was Thomas claiming LeBron was the GOAT over Jordan a few years ago. But Thomas would surprise everybody the other day, as he appeared on ESPN, talked about various topics, and shockingly gave Jordan some praise while taking shots at LeBron:
« Well, we come from an era where there was humbleness and respect. This is the era where they say, I am the best. I’ll even bring Jordan up in this. We have never heard Michael Jordan say, he was the greatest who ever played. And this is a generation that says no, I am the greatest to do it. And they put their stamp on it, claim it. We came from an era where we didn’t claim it. We let others claim it and fight about it. »
Isiah Thomas, ESPN
As the modern era of basketball and technology arrived, Thomas is on point. Social media and media outlets have allowed the players to express themselves more than ever and ooze confidence easier than ever. So we have heard LeBron say numerous times he is the greatest basketball player ever, causing heated debates between fans and analysts around the NBA world. It didn’t help his case, as it only added to the diva personality he has shown throughout his career, seeking validation from everyone.
On the other hand, Michael Jordan was the epitome of confidence, but he never had to say he is the greatest. His performances and demeanor spoke for themselves and demanded respect by themselves. We all know MJ thought he is the best ever, but he never felt the need to boost his own legacy. Instead, he left that job for everybody else. That is why a significant part of the NBA world still prefers MJ over LeBron in the GOAT debate.