I’ll have a few posts up this weekend about “Dream Team: How Michael, Magic, Larry, Charles, and the Greatest Team of All Time Conquered the World and Changed the Game of Basketball Forever,” Jack McCallum’s new book. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book for review.
Jack McCallum’s “Dream Team”:
So why does he think Isiah wasn’t on the team?
“I don’t think Jordan wanted to play with Isiah,” Drexler answers. “Two championships in a row, always an All-Star. And Isiah can’t make it?
“I didn’t like that. It’s not the players’ choice. It’s who’s supposed to be there. If you don’t like me, I don’t give a fuck. We’re competitors. You’re not supposed to like me. But when one player has the ability to leave another player off, we’ve lost control of the system.
“The one thing in sports that’s been important to me is integrity. If someone is good, no matter what, I am never going to say he’s not. If you’re good, you’re good.
Sports are not a perfect meritocracy, but at least in appearance – and maybe even reality – they come closer than any other area of our society. It doesn’t matter if you’re white or black, rich or poor. If you’re better than your opponent, you’ll have a chance to prove it. At least, that’s the idea.
Maybe Isiah Thomas was better than John Stockton in 1992. Maybe he wasn’t. More than I believe Stockton deserved to make the team ahead of Isiah, I believe it’s debatable.
But that debate never occurred because Michael Jordan didn’t want to play with Thomas.
Somebody had to be the best player left off the Dream Team, and that was Thomas. Alone, that doesn’t warrant outrage and controversy that has lasted two decades and will burn much longer.
But because it wasn’t a fair fight, our sense of right and wrong, especially in the realm of sports, feels violated. Drexler’s explanation is on point.
Isiah’s snub wasn’t that he didn’t make the Dream Team. His snub was that he didn’t have a fair chance.