BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Longtime NBA executive Rod Thorn, a key player in putting together the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team'' roster, said that Michael Jordan had nothing to do with Indiana legend Isiah Thomas being left off the team.
This whole spat, nearly 30 years old now, has been renewed because of what Jordan has said about Thomas during the 10-part documentary "Last Dance'' being shown on ESPN every Sunday for five weeks. Last Sunday's episode focused on the Jordan's Chicago Bulls finally getting past Isiah Thomas' Detroit team during the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.
There was controversy over Thomas and some of his Pistons teammates walking off the floor before Game 4 — and the series — ended, angering the Jordan and the Bulls. Chicago had lost to Detroit the three previous seasons, and Jordan shook hands after the series-clinching loss all three years.
Thomas said on Monday he would be “more disappointed today” if he was held off the 1992 Dream Team because he didn’t shake hands with Michael Jordan after the Bulls eliminated Thomas’ Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals.
Thorn said Thomas wasn’t held off the squad because he upset Jordan over the shake snub.
“There was never anything in my conversation with [Jordan] that had to do with Isiah Thomas, period,” Thorn said Wednesday during an interview on ESPN's Golic & Wingo show.
“He said, ‘I’ll do it (and play on the Olympic team).’ … Isiah’s name never came up during that conversation. And he never backtracked and said he didn’t want to do it from that time on, to those of us in the NBA office.
“Now, if that in fact happened, then it happened with somebody else; because when I talked to him, he ended up saying he would definitely [play for the Dream Team].”
VIDEO: Isiah Thomas says 'I paid a heavy price.'
Thomas, who did express regret in the documentary for failing to shake hands after the game, said Monday on ESPN’s “Get Up!” that it still stings that he was left off the Dream Team and seemed to suggest Jordan could have been the reason he didn’t make the squad.
“I tried to do everything correctly, and I thought I should have made the Dream Team,” Thomas said. “However, I wasn’t a part of it. That hurt me.
And looking back, if I’m not a part of the Dream Team because a lapse in emotion in terms of not shaking someone’s hand, if that’s the reason why I didn’t make the Dream Team, then I am more disappointed today than I was back then when I wasn’t selected.”
Thomas has said repeatedly through the years that the only thing missing on his substantial resume is an Olympic gold medal. He was on the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that wasn't allowed to compete in the Moscow Olympics when the U.S. decided to boycott the games for political reasons.
And he should have made the 1992 "Dream Team'' roster based on his two NBA titles and annual All-Star selections as one of the best point guard to ever play the game.
Related stories on Isiah Thomas
- KNIGHT RETURNS: With Isiah Thomas at his side, former Indiana coach Bob Knight returns to Assembly Hall for the first time in 20 years. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA'S 1980 TEAM FORGOTTEN GREATNESS: The team led by Isiah Thomas and Mike Woodson was one of Indiana's best, but they aren't thought of that way because they didn't win a title. CLICK HERE
- THOMAS WRONG IN HANDSHAKE SPAT: Nearly 30 years later, the debate still rages on in the bitter rivalry between Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls and Isiah Thomas' Detroit Pistons. CLICK HERE