The Last Dance documentary has people talking Jordan and re-litigating 30-year-old NBA controversies, with more to come this weekend as the ESPN series talks Jordan playing baseball and the way he treated teammates.
At the top of the re-litigation list: Should Isiah Thomas have been left off the Dream Team?
Did Jordan — maybe with backing from teammates — keep Thomas off?
David Robinson — a member of the gold-medal 1992 Barcelona Olympic team — said Thomas should not have been surprised he was left off the Dream Team, he did it to himself. This is Robinson on the Bulls Talk podcast with Jason Goff on NBC Sports Chicago.
“If you have a reputation and you take pride in your reputation as a ‘Bad Boy’ it kind of means people aren’t going to like you,” Robinson told Goff. “Can you be that surprised when people say ‘I don’t really want to play with the ‘Bad Boys?’…
“When you talk about putting together a team, chemistry matters. It does,” Robinson said. “You can’t act like it doesn’t matter and for that team it was clear that was a consideration for all the people involved.”
It should be noted that Jack McCallum — the former Sports Illustrated NBA writer who has written several books, including “Seven Seconds or Less” — says he has Jordan on tape saying he refused to play if Thomas was on the team. McCallum also says he has Rod Thorn confirming that on tape. Jordan can play this down as a team thing, but he led the charge.
Robinson is saying Jordan wasn’t alone, and this was not a surprise to anyone. Robinson said he is a fan of Thomas’ skill and what he and the Pistons accomplished, but that doesn’t mean The Admiral saw Thomas as a Dream Team fit.
No doubt, chemistry does matter in building a team, and if there is friction between one player and the rest of the roster any front office has to consider that.
On the other hand, chemistry was not going to matter much in Barcelona. The Dream Team could have all hated each other and still won going away — at that point the NBA elite were light years ahead of their foreign counterparts.
Check out the Bulls Talk podcast for more insights from Robinson on The Dream Team, Jordan, and much more.