It has long been tradition among Detroit Pistons fans to share our disdain for Jordan by belittling his accomplishments. Is it in our best interest to bury the hatchet?
Airwaves and timelines have been flooded with Michael Jordan fans saying I told you so, LeBron James fans showing skepticism, and the occasional 80s/90s basketball truther.
As for Detroit Pistons fans, the consensus in these debates has been mixed. Many older Pistons fans still have hard feelings for Jordan while others have moved past the rivalry. Most acknowledge his greatness in the golden era of the NBA.
Younger fans may take a different angle, claiming that competition/talent was weaker back then, opening the runway up for Jordan. Most fans under 35 years of age would take the LeBron side of this argument. It is tendency to claim that the things that take place in your era are the best.
The conversations have made one thing tremendously clear. There is a clear generational gap in NBA discourse. More specifically, there is a divide among Pistons fans: those that were alive/old enough to witness Jordan’s battles with the Bad Boys and those that weren’t.
As a member of that second group, Sunday night was like hopping in a time machine. It was incredible to visit an era of the NBA I never got to experience.
I was blown away by the gravity of Jordan. Every room he walked into he owned and every time he stepped on the court he was the center of attention. He looked ten times more athletic than any player on the floor. I have always known that Jordan was great, but this peek behind the curtain has already blown me away and I think others would agree.
Well, almost everyone – except one Bill Laimbeer that is. His opinion may have changed in the last 48 hours, but just last week Laimbeer claimed that LeBron is the best ever, even better than Jordan.
“I firmly believe that [LeBron James] is the best basketball player in the history of the game.”
Former “Bad Boy” Piston, and Michael Jordan opponent, Bill Laimbeer. pic.twitter.com/9aTQgnW3n4
— First Take (@FirstTake) April 14, 2020
Laimbeer has always been vocal over the years, not shying away from his dislike for Jordan. It is tough to say if Laimbeer genuinely believes that LeBron is better or if he is just taking one more chance to mess with Jordan.
Either way, many Pistons fans share in this opinion. Due to the rivalry with the Bulls, many find it too hard to appreciate Jordan’s greatness.
The best way to go about it would be to follow the lead of Isiah Thomas. Despite the ruthless competition and sometimes petty treatment (i.e Jordan leaving Isiah off the Dream Team), Thomas has still found a way to pay respect to Jordan’s greatness.
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In a recent interview with The Detroit News, Isiah stated he hopes that his admiration for Jordan is shown in the upcoming episodes of ‘The Last Dance’. Though the two were fierce rivals, that does not stop Isiah from acknowledging the genius of Jordan.
Admiring Jordan for what he is does not take away from other players. In the same way, saying that LeBron is amazing does not belittle Jordan. The same can be said about eras. 90’s basketball was great. Current basketball is great. The ideas do not need to mutually exclusive.
And Pistons fans, I’ll let you in on a secret. No matter how these debates shake out – we have already won.
They want to say that Michael Jordan was the best to ever do it? Let them. Jordan being the greatest player of all-time only makes the Bad Boy’s legacy that much more impressive.
They want to say that LeBron James is actually the GOAT? That’s fine. He had to get through the Pistons first. How about Kobe Bryant? The Pistons play an integral part in his story as well.
You see throughout NBA history the Pistons have been the foil – something that prevents the protagonist from succeeding. This has angered Pistons fans throughout the years, but it’s an identity we need to embrace.
There is nothing wrong with being the villain.