The Detroit "Bad Boy" Pistons will always be known as the team that gave Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls the biggest problems. The Bulls weren't just going up against Isiah Thomas and a championship-proven team, but the most physical team in NBA history, one that until today still associates themselves as the "Bad Boy" Pistons.
The Pistons may have tormented the Bulls, but not Kevin McHale and the Boston Celtics, who believes that the Bad Boys got the best out of them because of injuries. In fact, according to McHale, Detroit's physically pushed the C's to be better, and the one reason why this wasn't the case for Jordan and the Bulls was because Detroit hated their antics on the court.
The Bad Boys felt the same hatred for the Bulls
As portrayed in Jordan's "The Last Dance" documentary, Chicago didn't like how the Pistons violently approached each game. What the MJ-produced documentary conveniently left out was why Detroit was motivated to do it in the first place. McHale said the matchup was just as personal for the Bad Boy Pistons because they didn't like how much Jordan's team complained to the referees every game.
"First of all, you can see why the Pistons didn't like the Bulls. The Bulls complained all the time. That's one thing that came across (in the documentary). Like, 'This is not basketball. This is thuggery.' All that stuff. I thought the Bulls really disrespected what the Pistons were able to do. But, hey, when you kill the king, you can talk sh*t," McHale told the Boston Herald in 2020.
Complaining was part of the Bulls' M.O.
The situation between the Bulls and the Pistons perfectly depicts the chicken and egg analogy. The Bulls complained because of the Pistons' physicality, while the Bad Boys' physicality went up in the first place because they didn't like how much the Bulls complained. Nevertheless, both teams had their reasons, and it sure made one hell of a rivalry that will never be forgotten.
Jordan's legendary career wouldn't be complete without the Bad Boy Pistons and vice versa. The beef between the superstars of both teams hasn't been squashed as you see Thomas take subtle shots at the 6-time champion now and then. Ultimately, McHale believes that each team's antics brought the worst out of both teams, and it was Jordan's squad that got the last laugh because they dethroned the team that many couldn't.