Since ESPN’s The Last Dance aired, there’s been plenty of discussion as to whether or not Michael Jordan was involved in Isiah Thomas’ exclusion from arguably the greatest basketball team ever assembled: the 1992 Olympic Dream Team. Jordan has maintained for decades that he had nothing to do with Thomas’ omission—a stance he reiterated in The Last Dance—while Thomas has popped up on sports show after sports show as of late basically calling His Airness a bold-faced liar.
Had this still been the ’90s, it’s likely that their simmering beef would’ve remained unresolved. But thanks to The Dream Team Tapes with Jack McCallum, a new podcast that explores “the real story” of the 1992 Olympic Dream Team, we now have concrete evidence that yes, Jordan absolutely had everything to do with keeping Thomas off of that squad.
In a clip from a recent episode of The Dream Team Tapes that’s circulating on social media, Jordan is on tape admitting that he gave Rod Thorn—the same Rod Thorn who was on the 1992 Olympics selection committee and who has backed Jordan’s insistence that Jordan had nothing to do with Thomas’ omission—an ultimatum.
“Rod Thorn called me. I said, ‘Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.’ He assured me,” Jordan said. “He said, ‘You know what? Chuck [Daly] doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team.”
According to ESPN, the audio is taken from an interview that McCallum conducted in 2011—and it’s a complete about-face from the
story lie Jordan told in The Last Dance.
“Before the ‘92 Olympics, Rod Thorn calls me and says, ‘We would love for you to be on the Dream Team,’ Jordan said in the docu-series. “I say, ‘Who’s all playing?’ He says, ‘What does that mean?’ I say, ‘Who’s all playing?’ He says, ‘Well, the guy you’re talking about or you’re thinking about, he’s not going to be playing.’
Jordan added, “I respect Isiah Thomas’ talent. To me, the best point guard of all time is Magic Johnson and right behind him is Isiah Thomas. 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.”
In an April appearance on ESPN’s Golic & Wingo, Thorn absolved His Airness of any fault or blame in the decision to omit Thomas from the Dream Team roster.
“There was never anything in my conversation with [Jordan] that had to do with Isiah Thomas, period,” Thorn said at the time. “He said, ‘I’ll do it.’ [...] Isiah’s name never came up during that conversation. And he never backtracked and said he didn’t want to do it from that time on, to those of us in the NBA office.”
He continued, “Now, if that in fact happened, then it happened with somebody else; because when I talked to him, he ended up saying he would definitely do it.”
Neither Jordan nor Thomas has yet to publicly comment on the new audio that has surfaced, but I think it’s safe to say that the six-time NBA champion has some explaining to do.