Today, Isiah’s and Michael Jordan’s relationship can best be described in a single word – hatred. We’ve seen the whole thing unpacked in the Last Dance, and it all points to one conclusion – the beef is still ongoing; it just isn’t publicized as much.
What is publicized are Zeke’s subtle shots at MJ, as the Hall of Fame point guard wastes no opportunities to dispute Jordan’s GOAT status. You can say it’s all opinion-based, but Isiah’s bias on this one is obvious. MJ, on the other hand, is past that point. He doesn’t let the personal stuff interfere with his judgment.
There are rivalries, and then there are feuds. Kobe and Shaq had a feud. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had one. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had one. Magic and Bird were one of the NBA’s biggest rivals ever. Wilt and Russell may have been the biggest. But the common denominator for all of these, whether rivalries or feuds, is the respect.
With MJ and Zeke, respect is one-sided. You don’t hear Michael diminishing Isiah as the player. The same can’t be said for Thomas. That’s just a continuation of the unsportsmanlike conduct in ’91 that planted the seeds for the feud in the first place. I can imagine Michael feeling the same way. It goes along with what he said about Zeke’s Last Dance explanation of the infamous walk-off.
You can show me anything you want. There’s no way you can convince me that he wasn’t an asshole.Michael Jordan, The Last Dance
With Isiah’s appearances on ESPN’s First Take, convincing MJ is getting more and more difficult by the day. And as long as Zeke doesn’t show respect, and get rid of the bias in the process, I don’t see MJ’s perception of Thomas changing. I’m talking about Isiah the persona. Isiah the basketball player has Michael’s respect. He’s the second-best point guard ever behind only Magic Johnson. No bias about it. Isiah should try to do the same.