Monday , Aug , 20 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Larry Bird, John Stockton, Karl Malone, & Michael Jordan Kept Isiah Thomas Off USA Basketball/1992 Dream Team

Others also had problems with the little point guard. Thomas, after a playoff loss to the Boston Celtics, told reporters that Bird was overrated. Like Jordan, Larry-legend never forgave him, even firing Thomas as Pacers’ coach just a few years ago …

The Fort-Worth Star Telegram reports on the Isiah Thomas-Michael Jordan beef that spilled over to the 1992 Dream Team:

The biggest controversy involving the selection of the 1992 Dream Team was the omission of Isiah Thomas, who had been on the 1980 Olympic team and had been on championship teams at Indiana in the NCAA and Detroit in the NBA. Thomas was popular among fans, but not so much among opponents, including several members of the Dream Team, most notably Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Karl Malone.

When John Stockton had a stress fracture in his leg in the qualifying tournament, some team officials wanted to replace him. Stockton fought it and made the trip to Barcelona for the Olympics.

It was widely thought that Thomas would have been the replacement. Not so said one key team official. "The phone number that was asked for was Joe Dumars’," the official said. "If Stockton couldn’t have played, Dumars would have replaced him. Not Isiah."

My Quick Take: Last week I reported that Jordan was responsible for Thomas being left off the original Dream Team. His Airness would only play in the Barcelona Olympics if Thomas was passed over for the back-up point guard role.

In the late eighties and early nineties, Jordan and Thomas’ teams were battling for Eastern Conference supremacy. There was no love between the and . Their playoff battles were physical, often leading to shoving matches. The Detroit players even refused to shake the Chicago players’ hands after getting eliminated from the playoffs.

But Jordan and Thomas had personal issues long before their clubs were bitter rivals. At the 1985 All-Star game, Thomas froze Jordan out of the offense, refusing to pass him the ball. And his Airness never forgave him.

Others also had problems with the little point guard. Thomas, after a playoff loss to the , told reporters that Bird was overrated. Like Jordan, Larry-legend never forgave him, even firing Thomas as Pacers’ coach just a few years ago.

It’s not surprising that other players didn’t want Thomas to replace Stockton on Team USA. Thomas complained publicly when Dream Team was first announced and he was passed over in favor of Stockton. Karl Malone took exception. Malone, Stockton’s Utah teammate and friend, elbowed Thomas to the head during a Jazz-Pistons regular season contest. Thomas ended up in hospital. The incident only made the situation more difficult.

The Detroit locker room would have been awkward if Thomas’ Piston teammate, Joe Dumars, had been selected as Stockton’s replacement.

Should Isiah Thomas  have been left off the original Dream Team? Get at us in the comment box below  with your thoughts.

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