Tag: John Salley


John Salley says Jordan not even his top 5 he played against


First, John Salley likes to say outrageous things on the radio. There’s a history of it.

Second, there is the fact that our personal views of history — particularly our personal history and stories — tend to be skewed by the things we choose to remember and focus on. Which is to say, for example, how you remember your high school years when you are 25 or 35 are not how your high school years were in reality.

Combine those to facts and you get John Sally on the ESPN’s Colin Cowherd show saying that Michael Jordan is not even in the top five players Salley ever played against. He puts Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Hakeem Olajuwon above Jordan on the all-time list. Even Kevin McHale is higher on Salley’s list. He thought Isiah Thomas was the best he ever played with — and he was on a Jordan Bulls team. Watch the video yourself.

I don’t want to get into the barstool debate about the GOAT. You can make an obvious and strong case for Jordan. I think Kareem tends to get shafted in this debate — maybe because he was aloof with the media, maybe because he was tall and we expect it of him, but he should be in the conversation. Magic was revolutionary. And we could go on and on about Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell and others.

I think what is going on here is Salley is a victim of his own memories, which are not always the most accurate of reflection of reality.

What Salley really remembers is a young, immature Jordan. He remembers the three years that the Bad Boy Pistons beat Jordan’s Bulls in the playoffs. The Pistons were the hurdle Jordan and his teammates needed to clear to get a title and Salley and his defense were a part of that. For years they had Jordan’s number.

But once Jordan and Scottie Pippen and the Bulls cleared that hurdle, they went on a run that blew the Pistons out of the water. Salley tends not to focus on the 1991 playoffs when the Bulls beat the Pistons, or even 92 when the Pistons were coming down and couldn’t get out of the first round. That’s when the Bulls were becoming the icons we know.

What Salley remembers is that the Lakers and Celtics of the Bird and Magic era were the Piston’s hurdle to clear to get a title. And so he reveres those he had to strive to reach, not as much those who came after trying to reach the Pistons heights. Before you rip Salley for this, we all do this in our own ways, and often with our own teams.

But there it is if you want it, John Salley saying some things that will make some of you mad.

The good ol’ days: When John Salley got punched by teammates

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Turns out, the old Detroit Bad Boys were pretty bad.

John Salley was being interviewed and telling stories over at Pistons.com (via Piston Powered) and he had some great tales.

Including the time as a rookie he got punched by his own teammates in practice.

“OK, now it’s the next day. Rick Mahorn and Sid Green have a little fight. I don’t know why, but I stand between them and said, ‘C’mon, we’re teammates, man. Let’s get along.’ And Sid punched me in the jaw and Rick kicked me in the leg and they both stood over me and said, ‘Rookie, don’t you ever get in a grown man’s (business).’

Classic. And a valuable lesson for you kids out there — don’t ever get in a grown man’s (business).

John Salley has a conversation with Rony Seikaly you would never have with Kobe


Got to love John Salley.

Not so much when he was a key part of the Bad Boys, but now as one of the funnier ex-players. A guy willing to tell some stories. Which he is doing for Deadspin (and to promote his new podcast).

The first one is classic — playoff veteran and champion Salley recounting a conversation with Rony Seikaly when both were on the Heat.

(Seikaly said) “Hey, man, how do you play all the way into June?” Remember, I’d been with the Pistons for six seasons and made the playoffs every year. I say, “What’d you say?” He goes, “The playoffs, third round, you guys play all the way to, like, June 28.”

“Uh, that’s what you do when you win a championship,” I say.

“But you only get paid from November to April. That’s taking too much of the summer, man. This is ridiculous.”

I say: “Well, playing for a championship is about pride. It’s not about money.”

He says: “It has to be, because this is some bulls—. You guys play an extra two months.”

And I was like, holy s—. I didn’t even realize it. I was playing an extra two-and-a-half months, for free.

File that under “conversations you would never have with Kobe Bryant