Isiah Thomas went on Get Up today to clear the air after he was a focal point of Episodes 3 and 4 of The Last Dance. But instead of clearing the air, he muddled it further, bemoaning the fact that he wasn't on the Dream Team, downplaying the importance of the Bulls bulking up to beat the Pistons and just generally coming off as a man who is trying to prop his own reputation as a basketball player because he is jealous of another's.
The thing is, great players don't need to do that. And make no mistake, Thomas was an all-time great player. But the fact that he felt the need to defend himself, to express his belief that he should have been on the 1992 Dream Team, that he took a swipe at the Bulls for pumping iron, it fits with what Thomas has become post-playing career.
It's clear in that clip he wants to minimize what the Bulls did. He said twice they shouldn't be rewarded for lifting weights, and then compares them to high school kids lifting weights. Whether consciously or subconsciously, it's clear he feels the Bulls get credit for something they shouldn't, but that perhaps he and the Pistons should get credit for pushing them to that level.
The next clip of Thomas that stood out to me was him discussing his exclusion from the 1992 Dream Team. First, he hypes himself up for about 20 seconds and then says he has no idea why he was left off the team. Then he talks about how smart he is, how he's won at every level, how he did everything right and how he's disappointed at the idea that him not shaking Jordan's hand after the Bulls beat them in the playoffs played a role in him not making the team.
So in the same minute of saying he did everything right, he also admits he didn't do everything right and was a bad sport. Yes, it was a moment of agony having just lost in the playoffs. But still, you weren't perfect so stop acting like you were.
Ultimately, Thomas and Jordan clearly didn't like each other, both on the court and seemingly off it. Part of that was likely jealously from Thomas' side. He was the man in the NCAA and NBA for over a decade. He did win everything both individually and collectively. Then Jordan came along and one-upped him in every way, both individually and collectively. That can't be easy for anyone at that level of competition.
This just felt like someone who wanted recognition for his accomplishments and was resentful of his biggest rival getting the attention he sought. But the problem for Thomas is his reputation hasn't been the same since the sexual harassment claims made against him when he was with the Knicks came to light and it's sullied his reputation more so than the known vices Jordan has dealt with. He's also trying to compete with an athlete universally lauded as the greatest of all time, perhaps in any sport. It's a losing proposition and today felt like a another L for IT.