Isiah Thomas: I Played Against 3 Guys Better Than Jordan

The feud continues
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 30, 2020 5:54 PM CDT
Isiah Thomas: I Played Against 3 Guys Better Than Jordan
In this 1988 photo, Detroit's Isiah Thomas, right, and the Los Angeles Lakers' Ervin "Magic" Johnson exchange greet each other before a game at The Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich.   (AP Photo/Robert Kozloff, File)

Michael Jordan is getting a lot of love these days thanks to a new ESPN documentary about his greatness on the basketball court. Just don't count fellow Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas among those who consider Jordan the greatest of all time. In fact, Thomas tells CBS News that he personally played against three better players during his career from 1981 to 1994. His list of the top five players he competed against:

  1. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  2. Larry Bird
  3. Magic Johnson
  4. Michael Jordan
  5. Julius "Dr. J" Erving

His rationale: "When you put Jordan and his basketball team in the ’80s, they weren’t a very successful team," says Thomas. "They just weren’t. When you talk about Jordan and his team dominating, they dominated the ’90s. But when you put him with those Lakers teams and those Pistons teams and those Celtics teams, they all beat him. They just did." Sure, Jordan "three-peated," but "he didn’t three-peat against Magic, Larry and Dr. J." As both CBS and the New York Post note, Jordan and Thomas never liked each other much. Jordan reportedly helped keep Thomas off the 1992 Olympic "Dream Team," and Thomas' Pistons refused to shake the hands of Bulls players after Chicago beat them in the 1991 playoffs. (Now, about that Obama title in the documentary.)

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