One of the most heated rivalries in NBA history was between the Detroit Pistons and the Chicago Bulls at the end of the ’80s and beginning of ’90s. Pistons were two-time NBA championships and one of the toughest teams in NBA history that nobody liked in the league back then. Primarily because of their defense, which often relied on playing extremely hard to a point where some players would often get hurt after facing them.
In one of The Last Dance episodes, the rivalry between the Pistons and Bulls was portrayed as one of Michael Jordan’s most challenging tasks in his NBA career. The Pistons were continually beating the Bulls in the eastern conference playoffs. At that time, they knew that if they wanted to stop the Bulls, they need to take care of Jordan, which resulted in the implementation of the ‘Jordan Rules.’
In 1991, the Bulls finally ascended and became tougher as a team, which resulted in a sweep against the Pistons. The most notable moment of that playoff series was the poor sportsmanship from the Pistons, who left the game with 7.9 seconds left in the quarter without congratulating the Bulls for their victory. In a recent interview for ESPN, one of the most notable members of that team, Bill Laimbeer, said that he still, to this day, doesn’t regret his actions and what the media said about him and his teammates.
“Why would I regret it now today? I don’t care what the media says about me. I never did. If I did, I’d be a basket case, especially back then.
“I was about winning basketball games and winning championships and did whatever I had to do to get the most out of my ability and our team — and we did. At the end of the day, we’re called world champions.”
Bill Laimbeer, via ESPN
Laimbeer continued in his fashion calling the Bulls whinners because they kept stating wrong claims about the Pistons and how they handled themselves in that situation. Because of how they played basketball, the Pistons were portrayed in the media as bad people, even though Laimbeer claims nobody ever wanted to know who they were as people and how they treated people close to them.
“They whined and cried for a year and a half about how bad we were for the game, but more importantly, they said we were bad people. We weren’t bad people. We were just basketball players winning, and that really stuck with me because they didn’t know who we were or what we were about as individuals and our family life. But all that whining they did, I didn’t want to shake their hand. They were just whiners. They won the series. Give him credit: we got old, they got past us. But OK, move on.”
Bill Laimbeer, via ESPN
Even though Laimbeer made a valid point there, and it’s somewhat true that the media painted the picture of that Pistons team as a bunch of extremely disliked bullies around the league, what they did in that game was unacceptable. One of the fundamental rules in any sport is that you shake the opponent’s hand at the end of the game if they were better, no matter how bad the loss feels. Unfortunately, the Pistons didn’t do the right thing when they were supposed to, so the backlash from the media and other players is completely justified in this specific case.