Michael Jordan's documentary The Last Dance released last week and has been praised for its in-depth detail on the NBA legend's last season with the Chicago Bulls. Jordan joined Bulls in 1984 and won the three-peat twice but did not reach a single NBA Finals until 1991 due to the Detroit Bad Boys Pistons. The Last Dance has thrown light on the Bulls vs Pistons rivalry and the Isiah Thomas Dream Team.
Chicago Bulls competed for the Eastern Conference since the arrival of Michael Jordan, however, they were denied for three consecutive seasons by the Isiah Thomas Dream Team. The Isiah Thomas Dream Team were often dubbed as Bad Boys Pistons for their physical and aggressive play. The Bad Boys Pistons physically bullied Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls during three straight post-season series from 1988 to 1990, en route to conquering back-to-back NBA titles in 1989 and 1990.
However, the 1991 season saw a change and Michael Jordan's side swept past the Bad Boys Pistons, helping Chicago to their first of the six titles in the 90s decade.
In his second game of the second NBA season, Michael Jordan was on the end of a hard foul from Detroit Pistons centre Bill Laimbeer on a layup effort resulting in an altercation between coaches Stan Albeck and Chuck Daly, who were later dismissed from the game. With Pistons having left the court, Jordan scored with his final free-throw helping Bulls win 121-118. Jordan finished with 33 points on the night.
Michael Jordan dropped as many as 61 points in a 125-120 overtime win over Pistons, which to date remains his highest-scoring NBA game. After the game, Jordan had said he felt close to unstoppable in a match where Isiah Thomas managed 31 points and 18 assists.
Pistons centre Rick Mahorn committed a hard foul on Jordan in the third quarter of the match, resulting in a quarrel between Mahorn and Bulls forward Charles Oakley, which eventually leading to a bench-clearing brawl with plenty of punches thrown. Mahorn and Oakley were both ejected from the game and were fined later. Jordan finished with a triple-double of 36 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists in a 115-99 Chicago Bulls win.
Bad Boys Pistons coach Chucky Daly devised a defensive game plan during their first playoff meeting against Jordan who had a 59-point game against the Pistons a month earlier. The scheme included limiting Jordan's easy shots, varying defensive setups and extreme physical play.
In the vital Game 3 of the 1988 Eastern Conference semi-finals, Micheal Jordan tried fighting through a Laimbeer screen and the duo exchanged shoves before Jordan looks to throw a couple of punches. Jordan received a technical foul, while Laimbeer was called for an offensive foul. Pistons won the game 101-79, gaining a 2-1 series lead.
Detroit Pistons ended Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals 4-1 on the heels of Michael Jordan's first regular-season MVP award. After helping Bulls win the Game 2 in Detroit with 36 points, Jordan averaged under 25 in the following three games with Pistons winning all three. However, Pistons eventually lost to the Lakers in seven games in the NBA finals.
The Bulls vs Pistons rivalry really soared in one of the most physical matchups in NBA history. Pistons defeated Bulls 4-2, despite Jordan averaging 29.7 points per game. Pistons clinched a 103-94 win in Game 6 and proceeded to win their first NBA championship.
The Pistons again romped to victory with 'The Jordan Rules' in full effect. The Bad Boys Pistons portrayed their extremely physical traits and defeated the Bulls in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals. Despite Jordan being heavily marked, the Bulls star finished the series with an average of 32.1 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists on 47 per cent shooting
The Bulls finally ended their run of three successive postseason defeats to the Isiah Thomas Dream Team and proceeded to clinch their first NBA title. The Bulls outplayed the Bad Boys Pistons and won each game by at least eight points. Thomas and Laimbeer drew criticism for not shaking hands and left the court with 7.9 seconds left in the clinging Game 4.
The NBA title was Chicago Bulls' first in a successful 90s decade also marked the end of the Isiah Thomas Dream Team. The Bulls vs Pistons rivalry took a further hit with Pistons not qualifying until 95/96. Later, Denis Rodman joined Chicago Bulls after a spell at San Antonio Spurs and was instrumental in the Bulls' second three-peat.