Jay C. Brandriet
Isiah Thomas was famously excluded from the original “Dream Team.”
Back in 1992, NBA fans knew his name was the most glaring omission.
After listening to Stockton do an interview with Jason Whitlock, I had to address this memory.
Whitlock asks, “how did you handle the Dream Team controversy that was raging? There were two different ones. Michael Jordan not wanting to play with Isiah, and how could they put Stockton on the team ahead of Thomas? Did you and Isiah ever talk about that then, and do you ever talk about it now?”
Stockton answers, “I was surprised I made it in the first place. Who else was on the team was kind of irrelevant to me. I was asked. I have a job to do, lets go. Then the controversy comes out. I don’t read the newspapers, and social media which I don’t have, did not exist yet. I only heard about it on the days we played Detroit, which was twice a year. Then I’d hear about it a lot. He put some games together that year too. He was a load and a half to deal with.”
John continues, “amidst all the noise, Thomas did something special. He found a way to personally call my dad. He told him he thought he belonged on the team AS WELL, not that it was John OR me. My dad appreciated that. I’m not sure I would have been big enough to do the same thing. I was grateful, and it put my camp at ease.”
John added, this all happened before the Olympics.
This topic has more legitimacy than I remember.
The roster was selected in September of 1991.
At the time, Isiah was an NBA legend. Many considered him the “best small man to play the game.”
Stockton was a superstar, trending up.
This selection happened less than four months after the Pistons refused to shake the hands of the Chicago Bulls, after losing in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.
I think it was YEARS later before we knew Michael Jordan and others may have not wanted Thomas on the squad.
HOW THEY COMPARE IN ALL TIME GREATNESS
The two players were on the same level.
I recently ranked Thomas the 24th best player of all time, and Stockton 27th.
What breaks the tie for me isn’t necessarily the Pistons two championships.
At the peak of pressure, Isiah could score in a myriad of ways.
The few times someone ranks John over Isiah, people freak out.
To those over reactors, I’ll remind you of these underrated gems.
Stock played 82 games, 16 times.
Isiah did it once.
Stockton was better on this end of the floor.
Career field goal percentage?
Career three-point percentage?
Career free throw percentage?
One could claim I’m biased because I lived in Salt Lake City.
I could claim back, the pre internet world was naive to HOW great Stockton was.
HOW I VIEWED THE SNUB
Factor in, one of the roster spots had to be a college kid (Christian Laettner).
It was obvious, Isiah was the most deserving name left off.
I also remember wondering about Dominique Wilkins.
Stockton and Thomas playing the same position, is the only connection I made.
On the fairness scale, I looked at it like this:
Add Thomas, drop Chris Mullin.
TO ME, Isiah’s Dream Team snub was never about Stockton.
Jay C. Brandriet