For as a great a player as he was, it’s unfortunate that Isiah Thomas’s legacy will always be stained by the infamous walk-off he orchestrated before time expired in Game 4 of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals when the Chicago Bulls swept the Detroit Pistons en route to their first ever NBA Championship.
That gesture is said to have been the reason Thomas was left off the Dream Team in ’92 and cemented a very cold history between himself and Michael Jordan.
However, in a recent taping of NBA TV’s ‘Open Court’ program, Thomas said he now regrets what happened and thinks he should’ve been a better sport about it.
"Absolutely," was his response when asked if he would shake hands with the Bulls after Game 4. "Looking back, in terms of what has happened, had I had a chance to do it all over again, we should’ve took the high road."
Thomas said the decision to walk off the court with time still left on the clock was made on the bench, and it all stemmed from the perceived disrespect towards Detroit on the part of Michael Jordan and Phil Jackson.
"Before the Bulls swept us in ’91 – I remember clearly – [Michael] Jordan and Phil Jackson went on a day, day-and-a-half tirade about how [the Pistons] were bad for the game, how we were bad people, how [Bill] Laimbeer was a thug, in our town. They were getting ready to win – they were up 3-0 – and then they had this press conference just totally disrespecting us as champions.”
The Hall of Fame point guard said it took him about six to eight months before coming to the realization that the gesture was inappropriate.
You can catch the rest of the interview with Isiah Thomas when Open Court premiers on Oct. 8 at 5 p.m. CT.