One of the most exciting rivalries in NBA history was definitely the one between the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The Pistons were a true powerhouse during that period, winning two championships in a row before falling to the Bulls in the 1991 ECF, which will be remembered for Unsportsmanlike behavior from the Pistons when they left the court early and didn’t even shake the Bulls hands as a sign of respect.
For a few years, these two teams had some epic battles in the regular season and the playoffs, which were embodied by the ‘Jordan Rules’ in which the Pistons used every trick in the book to stop Jordan. They would foul him hard constantly, often those fouls were dirty, and frustrations would be high. There was an apparent animosity between these two teams and their players that still lasts to this day.
After the Bulls swept the Pistons in 1991, it marked an era in which Bulls rose to fame and popularity, establishing themselves as the best team in the NBA. The Pistons were an aging team that no longer had a serious chance of beating the Bulls in the playoffs, but that didn’t stop Bill Laimbeer from taking shots at Jordan in any opportunity presented to him.
In 1992, Bill Laimbeer called out Jordan for being a ‘lousy human being’ whose greatness and incredible popularity were the product of his publicist and the media.
Who is he? All he does is play basketball, and in the world, he is this big. He might be up there because he has publicist media pumping him up. But as an individual down-to-earth person, he is nothing; who is he, who cares about him?Bill Laimbeer
It didn’t take long for Jordan to respond to his criticism in a very polite and professional way, saying everybody is entitled to their opinion. Jordan was never bothered by what other people said about him, and he always stated his main goal is to perform well on the basketball court.
It’s just a guy with an opinion, and everybody got their opinion. You have an opinion, I have an opinion, Bill Laimbeer has an opinion, and it’s going to be totally different at certain times. It doesn’t bother me to see other people give their opinions about certain things. If you want my opinion I will give it to you, but it doesn’t bother me as a person and what I have to do on a basketball court.Michael Jordan
The rivalry between these two teams was so fierce and competitive, Isiah Thomas and Bill Laimbeer are still not on good terms with Jordan and the rest of the Bulls. Laimbeer doesn’t speak with the media that often, but he uses the opportunity to disrespect the Bulls and Jordan every time he does. On the other hand, Jordan never used any derogative statement towards them. Still, he proved his point where it mattered the most, on the basketball court, winning games and multiple championships, eventually becoming one of the greatest athletes of all time.