First off, I would like to give a shout out to EPMD. An old school rap group that this title came from. Back in 1985, A skinny two guard from the Chicago Bulls was a part of history that is remembered by every basketball purist every time the All-Star game comes around. The infamous Michael Jordan freeze out that was ALLEGEDLY orchestrated by Isiah Thomas and his partner in crime on the Western squad, Magic Johnson. Understand, this is a testament to how great Michael Jordan really was. He was not “Air Jordan” yet, but he still was a part of urban legend.. All while scoring only seven points. There has never been confirmation from any player that these events occurred. It was never refuted by Jordan either. But what if it did? What if there was jealousy and resentment from the veteran players towards Jordan. Let’s take a look back shall we?
Here’s the scenario. The legend told around the campfire is that some of the older NBA players thought Michael Jordan came off as cocky and arrogant. Really people, this is the NBA, if you are not cocky and arrogant playing in this league, do you know what happens? You turn into Adam Morrison. You turn into Kwame Brown. You turn into Jon Koncak or my father’s favorite, Sean May. It was reported that Isiah Thomas got mad when Michael Jordan walked by him without acknowledging him at the hotel. I don’t know if this was true or not, but if this was true, Isiah, I’m going to say this as a fan. Come on man. Put on the big boy drawers. I’ve heard that Michael Jordan is the spokesman for Hanes. He’ll probably give you some. Let me stop lying, knowing how he feels about you he’ll probably charge you double. There were other reports that the other NBA all-stars were upset at Jordan’s behavior at the dunk contest. They thought that Jordan was showing everyone up competing in the first round in his Nike warm-up outfit. Uh, he went on to become the face for Nike for years and release the most famous brand of basketball shoes the world has ever known. I think Jordan had good business sense even back then. They also didn’t like him competing with gold around his neck. Number one, that’s his prerogative. Number two, the man lost to Dominique Wilkins. Does it really matter?
Now as a writer, it is my job to find a subplot then write about it and make it interesting for you the reader. Maybe the writers covering the game saw something they wanted to see. Maybe not. The one thing that did happen was some of the writers started to notice Jordan flashing through the middle wide open with no pass waiting for him. Jordan’s final line was 2-9 from the field scoring seven points. Michael Jordan back in those days was not the man we know today, the guy that will carry grudges through ten lifetimes always looking for retribution. Back then he was politically correct saying that was happy to be there and he did not believe that there was no freeze out. Isiah Thomas denied everything and said that he would reach out to him. He went on further to say it was impossible to freeze out Jordan the way people were saying.
Bull! Let me tell all of you something. If you are good at a craft, no matter what it is, you can manipulate things. It’s another way of imposing your will on something. There have been years where players come together to support one of their teammates to win the MVP of the All-Star game. Happens all of the time. Furthermore, Isiah Thomas at the time was the starting point guard of the Eastern conference ergo he has the ball in his hands. You can move the ball to an area where if Jordan makes a cut, other players may not see him or give him a nice pass at the basket. Also, there is an unwritten rule about rookies bowing down to the veterans. Remember when Karl Malone vowed never to play in another All-Star game after he got mad at Kobe Bryant? Malone thought Bryant was showing off, shooting the ball too much and not getting the ball inside. I’m not saying that Isiah did anything, but to say it’s not possible is wrong.
Knowing Michael Jordan the way he is today, we know he loves getting back at people who crossed him. The Bulls played the Detroit Pistons that Tuesday after the weekend. Jordan absolutely DESTROYED the Detroit Pistons. Jordan poured malt liquor plus eight on the Pistons (that’s 48 points y’all) and the rivalry was on. This rivalry went on for years as the Bulls had to get through the Pistons in their “Bad Boy” days to get to the title dynasty of the 90’s.
I’ve always thought karma was nothing but God saying “okay” if you don’t have act right, here you go. When the NBA started picking NBA players to be on the 1992 Olympic team aka the “Dream Team”, guess who got left off. Isiah Thomas. It was ALLEGEDLY reported that Michael Jordan would not play if Thomas was on the team. Now Michael Jordan did deny being the influence of keeping Isiah off the team. However, Magic Johnson in his book. “When The Game Was Ours” did say that he, Jordan and other players did conspire to “freeze out” Isiah from being on the Olympic team. Oops!