Isiah Thomas: ‘I’ve Paid a Heavy Price’ for Not Shaking Bulls’ Hands

Isiah Thomas says he “paid a heavy price” for taking part in the handshake snub of Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls after Detroit was swept out of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.

“It’s unfortunate that it happened,” laments Thomas, adding that he remains hurt for supposedly not being selected to The Dream Team due to a “lapse in emotion.”

It bears noting that MJ trashed the Pistons as “undeserving champions” prior to the infamous walk-off.

“The Pistons are undeserving champions,” Jordan said on the day between Games 3 and 4 in Detroit in 1991. “The Bad Boys are bad for basketball.”

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“We were coming down, Michael Jordan was coming up,” Thomas said. “And in coming up, you have certain emotions; and in coming down as champions, you have certain emotions. … Looking back, over the years, had we had the opportunity to do it all over again, I think all of us would make a different decision.”

With 7.9 seconds remaining in the Bulls’ 21-point rout to end the series, the Pistons — at [Bill] Laimbeer’s behest, according to Thomas — walked off the court without shaking the Bulls players’ hands or congratulating them.

“I’ve paid a heavy price for that decision,” Thomas said. “And in paying that price — I understand this is the sports world and everything else, but at the same time, looking back over it in terms of how we felt at that particular time, our emotional state and how we exited the floor — we actually gave the world the opportunity to look at us in a way that we never really tried to position ourselves in or project ourselves in that way. So it’s unfortunate that it happened.”

The Hall of Fame guard also was asked about his omission from the roster of the 1992 Dream Team at the Barcelona Olympics, and whether he believed his refusal to shake Jordan’s hand was a factor.

“I thought I should’ve made that Dream Team,” Thomas said. “However, I wasn’t a part of it. That hurt me, and looking back, if I’m not a part of the Dream Team because a lapse in emotion in terms of not shaking someone’s hand — if that’s the reason why I didn’t make the Dream Team, then I am more disappointed today than I was back then when I wasn’t selected.”

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