Isiah Thomas, as the story goes, was extremely upset John Stockton was selected to the Dream Team over him prior to the 1991-92 season. So, when the Pistons and Jazz met in November of 1991, Thomas took over, torching Stockton for 44 points.
Though he never disparaged Stockton publicly, Thomas made his point during gameplay – exactly where he should have made it.
Karl Malone, though, rebutted during the Pistons-Jazz rematch the following month with an extremely violent cheat shot.
To this day, Thomas is still bitter.
Thomas, via Terry Foster of The Detroit News:
“I think it was the dirtiest play I have experienced in the game of basketball in my life,” Thomas said of the play, which happened on a Pistons pick-and-roll with Malone rotating to cover the middle. “I don’t think I’ve seen anything as vicious and as intentional to a player. I still don’t understand it.”
“It was horrific,” Thomas said. “That was the cheapest (bleep) in my mind in the history of the game.”
Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $95,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Friday night’s games. It’s $25 to join and first prize is $10,000. Starts at 7pm ET on Friday. Here’s the FanDuel link.
There is nothing wrong with Thomas’ claims. Malone absolutely and drastically went outside the bounds of fair play. He deserves much more criticism for the incident than he’s gotten (and it’s not as if this has been ignored).
Plus, Thomas’ beef was with Stockton’s Dream Team inclusion, anyway. It had nothing to do with the much-larger Malone, a muscular power forward picking on a small point guard.
But how many times did Thomas have Bill Laimbeer or Rick Mahorn serve as enforcer for him? Sometimes, what goes around comes around.
Still, Thomas never did anything to surrender his right not to get elbowed in the face like that. Never anything close.
Twenty-three years later, Thomas clearly still resents how Malone handled the situation. Thomas can keep resenting it until the end of time. I’ll be right there with him on that.