Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas are two of the greatest NBA players of all time. They helped shape late 1980s and early 1990s basketball in a way that few of their contemporaries could claim to, and both remain important figures in the sport today.
That said – they also deeply hate each other.
Thomas, in particular, never misses a chance to poke at Jordan publicly.
The animosity they share has prompted many to ask: what caused this rift?
During a 1992 interview with Playboy (via BallisLife), Jordan himself explained the origin of the bad blood.
“What’s the story with you and Isiah Thomas and the alleged Jordan freeze-out at the 1985 N.B.A. All-Star game? Do you think they were really denying you the ball?” he was asked.
“If you go back and look at the film, you can see that Isiah was actually doing that. Once it started getting around that he was freezing me out, that’s when the ill feelings started to grow between us,” Jordan replied.
“There were some problems even before the game, weren’t there?” the interviewer followed up.
“That was my first All-Star game,” Jordan replied. “I stayed in my room most of the time because I didn’t know what to do. None of my teammates were there. I didn’t want to be out in a situation that I wasn’t comfortable with. The one time I did go out, I got on an elevator with Isiah Thomas to go downstairs for a league meeting.
“That was the first time I met him. And I said, ‘Hello, how ya doin’?’ That’s all I said. I was really intimidated because I didn’t know him and I didn’t want to get on his nerves. I didn’t want to seem like a rookie. You know, to just be so stupid. So I was quiet. I stayed in the corner. When I went down in the room for the meeting, I still didn’t say anything.
“After the weekend was over, it got back to me that I was arrogant and cocky and I wouldn’t even speak to Isiah on the elevator, that I gave him the cold shoulder. And I’m saying Isiah Thomas initiated it all.”
When pressed on how the incident made him feel, Jordan didn’t hold back.
“I was really disappointed and upset because I never wanted to step on anybody’s toes,” he continued. “When I came into the league, I considered myself the lowest on the totem pole. I’m a rookie, now let me work my way up. When I started with the Bulls, they wanted me to be a vocal leader, but I told coach Kevin Loughery that I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. We had all these guys with six or seven years in the league and I was in my first year.
“How could I tell these guys this and that? The best way I could do it was just to go out and play hard. And that’s the way I’ve always treated it. They took that as disrespect and misinterpreted that whole weekend.”
In the end, Jordan learned an important lesson from the entire brouhaha.
“It taught me about the jealousy that you deal with on this level,” he said. “But at the same time, this is a business. I’m going to take advantage of all the opportunities. If they were in my shoes, they would do the exact same thing.”
Through the years, Thomas has gone after Jordan on multiple occasions. He has also offered some fairly strong takes on the Michael Jordan vs LeBron James GOAT debate.
Kenny Pickett’s girl has now weighed in on his tiny, tiny hands. https://t.co/Qe71kOB6n8
— Game 7 (@game7__) March 24, 2022
In any case, it’s clear that regardless of the origin of this feud – it’s too far gone at this point.
Jordan and Thomas will never be friends.
Hopefully a mutual respect exists between them as competitors nevertheless, but aside from that, the relationship likely won’t improve much from here on out.