Isiah Thomas Reignites Feud With Michael Jordan, Claims He Was 'Dominant Over Him'

Former Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas has reignited his feud with Michael Jordan, suggesting he was a better player than the Chicago Bulls legend.

Thomas and Jordan embodied one of the NBA's most acrimonious rivalries, in which the Pistons and the Bulls collided—at times literally—four times in the postseason between 1988 and 1991.

The Pistons dispatched the Bulls 4-1 in the Eastern Conference Semifinals in 1988, before defeating the Bulls in the Eastern Conference Finals in six games a year later and in seven games in 1990.

Detroit won back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990, with Thomas named Finals MVP in the latter series, before Chicago exorcised their demons by sweeping the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1991.

Having breezed past their bitter rivals, the Bulls defeated the Lakers in the Finals to clinch a first NBA championship. Five more followed over the next seven seasons.

Jordan established himself as the NBA's greatest player as the Bulls completed their two three-peats, but Thomas believes he was better than the six-time NBA champion at one stage.

"Just head-to-head, I was dominant over him," the Detroit Pistons legend said on Tuesday night during an appearance on Club Shay Shay with Fox Sports host Shannon Sharpe.

"Until '91, when I basically had career-ending wrist surgery, up until then, my record against him and his team—it really wasn't competition there."

The Pistons' back-to-back titles were sandwiched between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics dynasties of the 1980s and the Bulls' first three-peat of the early 1990s.

While Chicago was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs during each of Jordan's first three seasons in the league, Detroit reached the Eastern Conference Finals as early as 1987, losing to Boston.

The Pistons dethroned the Celtics the following season, only to lose to the Lakers in the NBA Finals, before exacting revenge on the Purple and Gold in 1989.

Speaking to Sharpe, Thomas insisted that Celtics star Larry Bird and the Lakers duo of Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar were the main obstacles standing between him and an NBA title.

"He just wasn't my competition," he explained. "My focus was Bird, Magic, Dr. J [Julius Erving], Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

"Those were the guys. I don't care what anybody says. You can go back and look at history—those were the guys."

The rivalry between the Bulls and the Pistons was re-examined in episodes 3 and 4 of The Last Dance, ESPN's 10-part documentary chronicling Jordan's final season with the Bulls, which premiered at the end of April.

Jordan admitted he still harbors animosity towards his former rivals.

"Oh, I hated them," Jordan said in episode 3. "And that hate carries even to this day."

Under coach Chuck Daly, the Pistons relied on a win-at-all-costs mentality and quickly earned the "Bad Boys" monicker.

In Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer, John Salley, James Edwards and Dennis Rodman—who would join the Bulls in 1995—the Pistons had a group of players who were only too happy to adopt a rugged, confrontational approach.

Detroit's bruising style aimed at limiting Jordan became known as "The Jordan Rules" and the six-time NBA Finals MVP admitted there was no love lost in series against Detroit.

"They made it personal," Jordan said. "They physically beat the s*** out of us."

Isiah Thomas, Detroit Pistons
Basketball Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas is honored at halftime at the Palace of Auburn Hills on February 8, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. Thomas won back-to-back NBA titles with the Pistons in 1989 and 1990. Rey Del Rio/Getty

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