We made a big deal, rightly so, out of Scottie Pippen’s dumb comments about the Pistons a couple weeks back. Well, in fairness, former Piston Isiah Thomas has now joined him in underselling how good a few of his Hall of Fame opponents were, namely Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and Larry Bird.
Thomas is probably the best Pistons player of all time, and some of my favorite memories from childhood involve watching Thomas play. He was a warrior who cared more about winning than perhaps any player except Jordan. Since his playing days, however? Well, his record as a basketball exec speaks for itself and he’s done numerous things to suggest he might be a bit of a jerk. These comments to Bill Reiter of Fox Sports (via Deadspin) do nothing to disprove that jerkish reputation:
“I have no problem saying this at all,” he says. “They’re all 6-(feet)-9 and Jordan was 6-6 and a half. If they were all 6-1, it wouldn’t even be a question. They wouldn’t even fucking rate. If they were all my size, shit, they wouldn’t even be talked about.”
Now, it’s worth noting that these comments probably aren’t a result of Isiah simply thinking that he was the better player than all three. Bird and Jordan allegedly helped conspire to keep him off the Dream Team. And Johnson, who Thomas was friends with when they were players, blasted Thomas in a recent book, which Thomas obviously wasn’t happy about.
Reiter’s piece is lengthy and well worth the read for Thomas fans, of which I still consider myself despite the often childish way he has conducted himself over the years. I’m generally not surprised when people who are as competitive as Thomas was on the court turn out to be kind of petty off of it. The same can certainly be said about Jordan and Pippen, among others. The difference is, Thomas has seemed to burn more bridges than just about any other former NBA great, which is why he’s coaching a small college team rather than working in the league.