Note: this could be a letter from a member of the Detroit Pistons in the ’80s and’ 90s. A different angle on the story told in The Last Dance.
I absolutely hate everything around you, Michael Jordan. I hate your cigar, your glass of tequila, your way of telling how things were. Your inner circle, that little group of sycophants who applaud your successes and mistakes, is terrible for me. I hate to see you sitting on top of the world, telling young people an incomplete version. I am outraged that you collapse on that chair, smile at the camera and have the insolence to talk about us. Why are you gesturing like that when they show you those videos? You should wash your mouth, dear Mike.
You must have lost your memory, because a long time ago you didn’t laugh so much.
If we had told this story, many things would have been different. Perhaps that is why I decide to write these lines. It is not about spite, or anger, or revenge. It’s about respect. By our team, by our method and by a time of the game. The visceral difference we have with you, Michael Jordan, is that we know how to keep quiet when necessary. My differences, rather our differences, do not have to affect the facts. I will try to be as objective as possible. I just want you to know our version. And then you will know very well why we did what we did.
You know Larry Bird’s Celtics, dear Michael? Yes you know them. You only talk about the 63 points in the Garden in your documentary, but let me tell you something: when you still weren’t sitting at the top of the NBA, when you were just a rookie, we already had our battles with Boston. That was a real team. Did you ever hear Bird talk about us? There may be the odd resentment with Bill Laimbeer, but deep down, if you ask Larry about the Detroit Pistons, I’m absolutely sure, I’m signing on this blank sheet here, which will outline a laugh. He will not complain or seek a media revenge. Shame on you, Michael Jordan. And I think we’ve hit him harder than anyone. This was the NBA in the dawn of the ’80s, it was a man’s game. And that’s how we all understood it. To play in the NBA, you had to be a tough guy.
You really don’t remember any of this? The case with Isaiah Thomas is paradigmatic. Does the thorn in the 1985 All-Star Game still last you? No one knew if that was true, but you convinced yourself that it was so. Maybe you didn’t get the ball, but it’s also possible to think that you weren’t good enough yet. Who knows. What I do not understand is why you express your anger in the documentary only with him and not with Magic Johnson or George Gervin, when the alleged plot was of the three of them. And the answer is clear: you don’t want Isaiah because while we were together in the NBA, we Bad Boys, as you like to say, were better. Out of four playoff series we played between 1988 and 1991, you could only beat us once and when we were getting on in years. Considering that we were champions in 1989 and 1990, the proof is in sight. You can’t stand reality, can you?
I guess all this you do is a personal revenge. You say that in the tie you won, we left without saying hello. You openly criticize the Jordan Rules, what is the problem? We fight, compete and win. That is our essence: we are winners. We did not play without referees, we were not outside the law, we did not do anything that the League did not allow us. We played to the limit of the regulation, for you it was form and for us content. And if we didn’t shake your hand when you beat us, you have to know that we never received a protocol to follow in these cases. Cite it in your documentary as something relevant? Honestly, I can’t believe it. Perhaps it would have been more interesting if you recounted everything you did to leave Isaiah Thomas out of the 1992 Dream Team. Did you talk to Chuck Daly in Barcelona about Jordan’s rules? Sure, from ’90 on, the rules were written by you. Or at least that’s what your colleagues say, who say they felt “fear” of you as a leader.
I am filled with indignation, but above all else this causes me pain. On second thought, dear Michael, I think what you have for us is admiration and possibly some jealousy. Otherwise, you would not have accepted that the Detroit Pistons gene, embodied in Dennis Rodman, has traveled to Chicago to give you a hand in your last three-time championship.
You’re welcome, Your Majesty. We will not charge you anything for that collaboration.
Michael Jordan, I must be absolutely frank with you in my thinking: I don’t like what you say but above all I don’t like how you say it. You are really very unfair. We, the villains in your movie, made our own rules to stop you because we respect you. And that should be mutual. Because we believe that if Batman exists, there must be the Joker to help him push his limits. Superman, unfailingly, needs his kryptonite for there to be conflict and therefore there is history. It wasn’t Tim Grover who shaped you, we were your best coach. To be the tough guy of the six championships, you had to put up with us first. Isaiah, Laimbeer, Dennis and Rick Mahorn too. Know the taste of blood to later be able to bite. And so all your rivals who had you later, call them John Starks, Reggie Miller, Charles Barkley, Gary Payton, Karl Malone or whoever you choose, were just child’s play for you.
You are what you are thanks to us. We were what we were thanks to you.
The villains, the ones who hate you as part of the script of an NBA that should not die, we will never, but never regret anything.
In the silence of our words, our greatest conviction reigns.