Today’s Jordan tape tells a different story between Michal Jordan and Isiah Thomas than the one we heard on The Last Dance.
In 2011, Jordan was interviewed by sports reporter Jack McCallum. McCallum wrote the definitive book on the ‘92 Dream Team and released the “Jordan tape” today on his podcast, The Dream Team Tapes.
In the clip, Jordan recounts telling Rod Thorn that he would not play on the Dream Team if Thomas was included.
“Rod Thorn called me. I said, ‘Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.’” You can hear Jordan say on the tape. “He assured me. He said, ‘You know what? Chuck [Daly] doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team.’”
A little under halfway through Episode 5 of The Last Dance, an archival clip shows Marv Albert talking to Jordan in a television interview. “Now there has been speculation,” Albert says, “that your icy relationship with Isiah Thomas is the reason he was not selected [for the ‘92 Olympics].”
Jordan went on to address these accusations on camera in front of the ESPN/Jordan production crew.
“No matter how much I hate him, I respect his game. Now it was insinuated that I was asking about him, but I never threw his name in there… If you want to attribute it to me go ahead, be my guest, but it wasn’t me.”
It’s not surprising to see Jordan contradict himself once he is outside the cocoon of his production company and ESPN.
The Last Dance was entertaining and brought some semblance of sports to the quarantine. But the series was made by Jordan as an exercise in brand marketing, not documentary filmmaking with any shred of journalistic integrity.
Yes, there were other players besides Jordan who did not want Thomas on the team. Bird, Magic, and Scottie, had their own beefs with Thomas.
Jordan’s on-the-record statements in The Last Dance and on the 2011 recording catch the ballplayer in a lie.
Even worse, the film MJ produced provides revisionist history to the masses and does not wrestle with the complexities of Jordan and his rivals. When Episode 5 of The Last Dance premiered a few weeks ago, Thomas was “disappointed” with the thought of being left off the Dream Team for non-basketball related issues.
To Thomas, his behavior should not have played a part in U.S. basketball’s decision making process.
But it did.
Jordan “respects” Thomas’ game, but not Thomas.
As of this afternoon, neither Thomas, nor Jordan, have responded to the podcast. But if history is any indication, Jordan will remain quiet until it is convenient and safe for him to speak.