The Last Dance: Isaiah Thomas Is Not Isiah Thomas’ Tether; They Are Two Different People

(L-R): Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Washington Wizards looks on against the Denver Nuggets during the first half on January 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. ; Head coach Isiah Thomas of the Indiana Pacers reacts to the NBA game against the New York Knicks in New York City, New York.
(L-R): Isaiah Thomas #4 of the Washington Wizards looks on against the Denver Nuggets during the first half on January 04, 2020 in Washington, DC. ; Head coach Isiah Thomas of the Indiana Pacers reacts to the NBA game against the New York Knicks in New York City, New York.
Photo: Patrick Smith (Getty Images), Al Bello (Getty Images)

The Last Dance may have been the final rodeo for Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls reign, but it is not the last of the passionate convos that have arisen from it.

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Namely, Episode 3 of the docuseries, which chronicled the long-time beef between the Detroit Pistons and the Bulls, particularly the vicious way in which the Pistons defense would play against Jordan as a winning tactic. Once the aptly-named Air Jordan leaped into the air, there was no stopping him. He was basically the Aquaman of air. As CBS Sports reported, the Jordan-attack tactics were known as The Jordan Rules:

In Episode 3 of The Last Dance, the 10-part ESPN/Netflix documentary, then-Pistons assistant coach Brendan Malone explains the Jordan rules succinctly: “On the wings, we’re going to push him to the elbow and we’re not going to let him drive to the baseline. No. 2, when he’s on top, we’re going to influence him to his left. When he got the ball in the low post, we were going to trap him from the top.”

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The Bad Boys were so salty about the fact they not only failed their “sweep the leg” mission but got swept, the losing team’s point guard Isiah Thomas infamously walked off the court without engaging in the good sportsmanship tradition of shaking the winning team’s hands. This was a real thing that happened despite Jordan shaking their hands after getting their asses kicked by the same team for years. Jordan reminisced about this moment in The Last Dance, maintaining that Isiah was an “asshole” for that move.

Adding some context to that though, Yahoo Sports writer Vincent Goodwill recalled the full story which was glossed over by a documentary in which Jordan is the protagonist:

Jordan and the Bulls appear like the more mature bunch in the way it was framed, but the Jordan-sanctioned documentary misses a very important point that led to the 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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Yep, even though Jordan didn’t feel like shaking their hand because he was in his feelings about losing, he shook their hand. Happens all the time. It has been nearly 3 decades since that occurred, but in the spirit of bringing up old shit for the sake of a documentary meant to revisit historic events, there were no efforts to “let it go.” That’s right, Jordan has rebuked the hero song of Frozen and has decided to not let it go, decades later. A petty GOAT.

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I’m a lifelong Bulls fan (stay tuned for my words on what The Last Dance meant to me), so the pettiness will simmer like a good pot of rice. Stay mad. Pistons mad. Jordan mad. The respective fans are mad. Everybody mad (firrrrrrst).

Anyway. The funniest thing about this involves 31-year-old Isaiah Thomas, who was definitely named after the 58-year-old Detroit Pistons alum (after his father lost a bet when the Lakers lost to the team in 1989, and his mother compromised by changing the spelling), but this fact also makes him an entirely different person.

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Still, Isaiah, who most recently played for the Washington Wizards before becoming a free agent, received some of that Bulls fan ire on Sunday evening.

“Y’all be tweeting me mad at me like I was tryna hurt Jordan lol,” Isaiah tweeted.

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Shit, I always get the spellings of their names mixed up despite knowing they’re two different people. Hell, it took several pages of a Getty Image search to find the above cover pic for Isiah Thomas despite the different spelling because Isaiah Thomas is the current sports figure.

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But I am here to officially confirm that Isaiah is not the tether of Isiah; he just so happens to be a professional basketball player named after a former professional basketball player. There may be years-long arguments on whether Isiah deserves the rage of the Bulls, but Isaiah certainly doesn’t.

The Last Dance airs on Sundays in two-episode increments at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN through May 17.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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