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‘whimpered And Cried’ Chicago Bulls Over The Rough Treatment Pistones For One Year

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The Last Dance documentary has reignited the feud between the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons that defined the NBA in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

The third and fourth episode of ESPN’s 10-part series chronicling Michael Jordan‘s final season with the Bulls touched on the battles between the two teams and the growing pains Chicago had to experience in order to become a championship-winning team.

“I hated them,” Jordan said in Episode 3 of The Last Dance on Sunday. “And that hate carries even to this day.”

The Bulls and the Pistons met in the Eastern Conference playoffs for four straight seasons, with Detroit prevailing in the semifinals in 1988 and in the conference finals in the following two seasons, before Chicago swept the Pistons at the same stage a year later.

The Last Dance focused heavily on the so-called “Jordan Rules”, the bruising, confrontational, win-at-all-costs mentality the Pistons adopted to stop the Bulls star.

When Chicago swept Detroit in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals, Pistons players left the court with 7.9 seconds left in Game 4 and the Bulls leading by 21 points. Living up to their “Bad Boys” moniker, they did so without congratulating their opponents on advancing.

While the documentary showed Jordan is still bitter about the incident, former Pistons center Bill Laimbeer believes he and his teammates did nothing wrong.

“They [the Bulls] whined and cried for a year and a half about how bad we were for the game, but more importantly, they said we were bad people,” he said during an appearance on ESPN’s The Jump on Monday night.

“We weren’t bad people. We were just basketball players winning, and that really stuck with me because they didn’t know who we were or what we were about as individuals and our family life.

“But all that whining they did, I didn’t want to shake their hand. They were just whiners. They won the series. Give them credit: We got old, they got past us. But OK, move on.”

In the documentary, former Detroit Pistons guard Isiah Thomas defended his team’s behavior, suggesting they had received the same treatment after beating the Boston Celtics in the 1988 Eastern Conference Finals.

However, Thomas, who was named Finals MVP in 1990 as the Pistons won a second consecutive NBA title, acknowledged he would have behaved differently had he known the fallout the incident would generate.

Unsurprisingly for a man who epitomized the “Bad Boys” approach, Laimbeer, who Thomas identified as the player to first suggest the Pistons left the court without shaking hands, holds a different opinion.

“Why would I regret it now today? I don’t care what the media says about me. I never did,” he explained.

“If I did, I’d be a basket case, especially back then […] I was about winning basketball games and winning championships and did whatever I had to do to get the most out of my ability and our team and we did. At the end of the day, we’re called world champions.”

Bill Laimbeer #40 of the Detroit Pistons sits on the bench in a game during the 1988-1989 NBA season.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty

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