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Isiah Thomas Deserved to be Part of the Dream Team

Publish Date: 31/05/2024
Fact checked by: Mark Lewis

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Despite his stellar credentials, Thomas was controversially left off the Dream Team roster, a decision widely believed to have been influenced by personal politics rather than basketball merit. It's well-documented that some prominent players on the Dream Team, particularly Michael Jordan, had reservations about Thomas' inclusion.

The rivalry between Thomas' Pistons and Jordan's Bulls was fierce, and the "Bad Boys" were known for their physical and often contentious style of play.

This animosity, combined with Thomas' perceived role in the alleged "freeze-out" of Jordan during the 1985 All-Star Game, reportedly played a significant role in his exclusion.

But Thomas, one of the most accomplished and skilled point guards in NBA history, undeniably deserved a spot on the 1992 U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Team, famously known as the Dream Team. His exclusion remains one of the most controversial decisions in sports history, given his impressive career achievements and contributions to basketball.

Legendary career with the Pistons

Thomas' career with the Detroit Pistons is nothing short of legendary. He was known for his exceptional ball-handling, leadership, and scoring ability.

Over his 13-year NBA career;

1. Consistent Excellence:

Thomas was a 12-time All-Star

2. Championship Pedigree:

Two-time NBA champion

3. Clutch Performer:

Finals MVP in 1990

4. Impressive Career Averages:

Thomas averaged 19.2 points, 9.3 assists, and 1.9 steals per game over his career

Stats like the above is highlighting his all-around game and dominance as a point guard. His ability to control the game, distribute the ball, and score when needed made him one of the most formidable guards of his era.

He was most importantly a winner. Isiah understood that his choice to forego personal stats and glory and embrace the team concept to win titles would rub some in the NBA the wrong way. He was fierce and unrepentant.

“You can say what you want about me,” Isiah said after he led Detroit to their second straight NBA Finals win in 1990, “but you can't say that I'm not a winner.”

Leader of the Bad Boys

Thomas was the heart and soul of the "Bad Boys" Detroit Pistons, leading the team with his fiery competitiveness and determination. His leadership was pivotal in guiding the Pistons to back-to-back NBA championships in 1989 and 1990, breaking the stranglehold of the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers in the league.

Thomas' ability to elevate his game in critical moments was particularly evident in the playoffs, where he delivered numerous clutch performances.

His tenacity, resilience, and basketball IQ were key factors in the Pistons' success, proving his value as a player who could lead a team to victory at the highest level.

The best little man in NBA history

Isiah’s skill set was tailor-made for international competition. His quickness, agility, and exceptional ball-handling would have been significant assets on the global stage, where the emphasis on guard play and speed is often magnified.

Thomas' ability to penetrate defenses, create scoring opportunities for his teammates, and his tenacious defense would have complemented the Dream Team's style of play.

Furthermore, his experience in high-pressure situations and his ability to perform under duress would have been invaluable in the intense environment of the Olympics.

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Jordan’s pettiness kept Isiah from being part of U.S. Basketball history

Thomas handled his omission from the Dream Team with professionalism and dignity. He continued to focus on his career and contribute to the game of basketball in various capacities, including as a coach, executive, and analyst. Thomas' legacy in the NBA is secure; he is widely regarded as one of the greatest point guards of all time.

  • His influence on the game, particularly in terms of the toughness and resilience he exemplified, continues to be felt.

Michael Jordan didn’t like Thomas, and let that personal distaste and jealousy (Jordan’s Bulls were 1-3 against Isiah and Detroit in the postseason) guide his action to bar the Pistons' star from U.S.A. Basketball.

  • Charles Barkley says that Thomas was the “best little man we’ve ever had [in the NBA].”

Inclusion on the Dream Team was a recognition of a player's excellence and contribution to basketball, and by these criteria, Isiah Thomas unquestionably deserved a spot. His career achievements, leadership qualities, and exceptional skills made him one of the best players of his generation.

The decision to exclude him was influenced more by personal politics and rivalries than by an objective assessment of his basketball talent.

Despite this, Thomas' career remains a testament to his greatness, and his exclusion from the Dream Team does not diminish his significant contributions to the sport.

As the Dream Team is celebrated for its historic impact on basketball, it is essential to acknowledge that Isiah Thomas, by merit and legacy, deserved to be part of that illustrious roster. Only a selfish decision by the biggest star in the sport kept him away.

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