The Last Dance

Sam Ray Not

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not really. Bird andJordan are two of the greatest players ever. Thomas doesn’t belong anywhere near them in an all-time great discussion.
I wish they had tracked plus-minus better in that era so I could say it with more confidence, but going by traditional numbers I think there’s a good chance Isiah is one of the more overrated players in NBA history: small, mediocre shooter, mediocre FT shooter for his position, piss-poor scoring efficiency even by the lower standards of his era, piss-poor rebounder. And the worst defender on his team, which is normal for a small PG on a great defensive team, but I never got the sense he was even above average for a PG, other than being decent at gambling for steals.

Those peak Pistons teams were totally stacked outside of Zeke: Dumars, Dantley, Aguirre, Rodman, Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson, Salley, Mahorn. I would not be surprised if there were 10-12 PGs in Isiah’s era who would not have made that team any worse, and probably four or five who would have made them better (certainly Magic and Stockton, quite possibly KJ, Mark Price, Tim Hardaway, even Ainge or DJ).
 
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jcd0805

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As usual, Isiah gets it twisted. Yes, the Celtics left early in Game 6 of the ECF, but there was only :03 seconds on the clock and a riot was already breaking out as seen below:
View: https://youtu.be/oRqkFQnGZaQ?t=6766


In those days it was common for the crowd to storm the court and anything could happen. The Celtics were the road team and wanted to get the hell out of there before bedlum broke out, which it kind of did. Daly has to be escorted out. It's the same reason they close off the court very quickly during the finals now.
In the Pistons case during the Jordan game, they were at home with no fear of being of being trampled by a road crowd. He's making shitty excuses because he's a clown and the Pistons were a trash team.
Watching First Take while working from home and Stephen A. Smith just offered that Larry Bird didn't get roasted for walking off the court because he was white "or something..." Isaiah looked pretty satisfied by that take lol
 

RedOctober3829

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How about everyone stop criticizing the Celtics for walking off the court? Jon Jennings was a scout for the Celtics at the time of this series and went on to be an assistant from 1990-1994 and Dir. of Basketball Development from 94-97.

Watching The Last Dance. Isiah was dead wrong about the Celtics walking off the court in 1988. Coaches had Larry, Kevin, Robert, and DJ leave due to security concerns. Thousands rushed the floor at the Silverdome after we lost. It had nothing to do with losing the series.

View: https://twitter.com/JonPJennings/status/1254603584064360448
 

Kliq

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Before the Bad Boy's Pistons do you know how many teams won an NBA title with a small guard as their best player?

Zero. (You could make the case that West was the best player on the 72 Lakers, but he was more of a SG and that team also had Wilt).

If the Pistons were going to win with an unconventional roster, they were going to have to win in an unconventional way. That meant being scrappier than other teams, being more physical, taking more liberties around the basket, fouling harder and working harder to antagonize their opponents. Was it pretty? Was it a clean, honest way to play? Probably not, but beauty doesn't count for much in professional sports, winning does, and the Pistons won. They knocked out two dynasties and held off a third to win two NBA titles during a very competitive era of basketball, and they did it all without a single top ten pick of their own outside of Thomas. The team got the absolute maximum out of its roster, allowing career over-achievers like Laimbeer, Mahorn, Dumars, Rodman and others to thrive.

The team doesn't win anything without Thomas, who was the catalyst for so much of what the team did. He might have led a bunch of thugs, but few NBA players have ever been as successful as a pure leader. It isn't like that was an easy cast of characters to get to play together, and I know Daly was a really good coach but the best player needs to be a great leader for that team to be successful. Along with Chris Paul and Oscar Robertson, Thomas is the most complete PG in NBA history. Great ball handler, great passer, very good defender for a player his size, and was the crunch time scorer for a team that won two titles. He had a flair for the moment; the 25 fourth quarter points against the Lakers in G6 of the 88 Finals after spraining his ankle is one of the greatest singular performances in NBA history, despite Detroit losing that game.

I wish they had tracked plus-minus better in that era so I could say it with more confidence, but going by traditional numbers I think there’s a good chance Isiah is one of the more overrated players in NBA history: small, mediocre shooter, mediocre FT shooter for his position, piss-poor scoring efficiency even by the lower standards of his era, piss-poor rebounder. And the worst defender on his team, which is normal for a small PG on a great defensive team, but I never got the sense he was even above average for a PG, other than being decent at gambling for steals.

Those peak Pistons teams were totally stacked outside of Zeke: Dumars, Dantley, Aguirre, Rodman, Laimbeer, Vinnie Johnson, Salley, Mahorn. I would not be surprised if there were 10-12 PGs in Isiah’s era who would not have made that team any worse, and probably four or five who would have made them better (certainly Magic and Stockton, quite possibly KJ, Mark Price, Tim Hardaway, even Ainge or DJ).
This is a very bad post. Thomas wasn't a very good outside shooter (very few players of his era were) but he was a pretty effective scorer for his position. Only 30 players in NBA history have been under 6'1" and shorter and shot at least 45 percent from the field in a single season, (Isiah did it seven times). Short players never shoot the ball that well, but Isiah who realistically was probably under six feet tall, was one of the best shooting short players in history, especially if you account for the era he played in.

Outside of Thomas, how many NBA titles have been won by a team whose best player was a small PG? Once; Curry in 2015 during an era that has greatly increased the effectiveness of smaller players. The idea that you could just slide in another small PG to the 80s Pistons teams and they could have achieved the same kind of goals is ridiculous.

Why do I have a feeling that this post was made in part because in the past, some people may have pushed back against your "Curry is the best small player of all-time" take by nominating Isiah for that title?
 

Papelbon's Poutine

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Out of all of Jordan's greatness, out of all his incredible moments, that shot against Cleveland is definitely one of the most overrated.

It was round 1. I think it was Ehlo's reaction that made that clip as famous as it is. Him crumpling to the floor was an iconic visual.
Disagree. It was Jordan's/the Bulls first playoff series victory, the Cavs were their fist nemesis - before the Pistons - and it was only the second time a playoff series had been decided on a buzzer beater (still only six total, Jordan owns 2). Not to mention simply the perfect camera angle to view what a tough shot it was - directly behind him, as you could see his momentum carrying him away, but he had the body control to control it mid air, almost pause for a second and hit a dead straight jumper that tracked like an arrow. The Ehlo visual certainly helps - I always thought he was ducking/diving because he thought he was going to get punched there, but if he was I can't find him ever copping to it - as does the fact that it was Cleveland and just another heartbreak like the Drive, the Fumble, the Catch, etc. But it was his coming of age and the first monkey off his back in a pretty dramatic fashion.

To each their own, but I'd take that over the switching hands mid air against the Lakers which I think gets even more applause. I understand the degree of difficulty there from a physical standpoint but a) he wasn't getting it blocked from the right and b) they didn't need that shot in nearly the same way.
 

Sam Ray Not

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Before the Bad Boy's Pistons do you know how many teams won an NBA title with a small guard as their best player?

Zero. (You could make the case that West was the best player on the 72 Lakers, but he was more of a SG and that team also had Wilt).

If the Pistons were going to win with an unconventional roster, they were going to have to win in an unconventional way. That meant being scrappier than other teams, being more physical, taking more liberties around the basket, fouling harder and working harder to antagonize their opponents. Was it pretty? Was it a clean, honest way to play? Probably not, but beauty doesn't count for much in professional sports, winning does, and the Pistons won. They knocked out two dynasties and held off a third to win two NBA titles during a very competitive era of basketball, and they did it all without a single top ten pick of their own outside of Thomas. The team got the absolute maximum out of its roster, allowing career over-achievers like Laimbeer, Mahorn, Dumars, Rodman and others to thrive.

The team doesn't win anything without Thomas, who was the catalyst for so much of what the team did. He might have led a bunch of thugs, but few NBA players have ever been as successful as a pure leader. It isn't like that was an easy cast of characters to get to play together, and I know Daly was a really good coach but the best player needs to be a great leader for that team to be successful. Along with Chris Paul and Oscar Robertson, Thomas is the most complete PG in NBA history. Great ball handler, great passer, very good defender for a player his size, and was the crunch time scorer for a team that won two titles. He had a flair for the moment; the 25 fourth quarter points against the Lakers in G6 of the 88 Finals after spraining his ankle is one of the greatest singular performances in NBA history, despite Detroit losing that game.



This is a very bad post. Thomas wasn't a very good outside shooter (very few players of his era were) but he was a pretty effective scorer for his position. Only 30 players in NBA history have been under 6'1" and shorter and shot at least 45 percent from the field in a single season, (Isiah did it seven times). Short players never shoot the ball that well, but Isiah who realistically was probably under six feet tall, was one of the best shooting short players in history, especially if you account for the era he played in.

Outside of Thomas, how many NBA titles have been won by a team whose best player was a small PG? Once; Curry in 2015 during an era that has greatly increased the effectiveness of smaller players. The idea that you could just slide in another small PG to the 80s Pistons teams and they could have achieved the same kind of goals is ridiculous.

Why do I have a feeling that this post was made in part because in the past, some people may have pushed back against your "Curry is the best small player of all-time" take by nominating Isiah for that title?
FG% is of course a poor proxy for shooting, unless you want to argue that Artis Gilmore was the best shooter of his time. Peak Isiah was very good at getting to the rim and finishing; that's mostly what his average-ish FG% is picking up. Much better proxies are FT% and 3FG%, where Zeke was solidly mediocre by the standards of his era: career 76% from the stripe and 29% from three. Stockton was 83% and 38%. Magic 85/30. KJ 84/31. Hardaway 78/36. Price 90/40. Ainge 85/38. Dumars 84/38. Etc. Isiah is dead last among all those guys on both counts.

"Outside of Thomas, how many NBA titles have been won by a team whose best player was a small PG?" is of course classic begging the question. The premise is that his team was stacked to the point that he might well not have been the best player on it. Dumars, Rodman, and Dantley could all have been better overall players than him, to name three. As I said, I can't be totally sure of that premise without seeing his on-off numbers, but his traditional numbers are certainly not promising.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure you're not old enough to have watched Isiah at his peak, so I'm not sure why you have such strong feelings on the matter, lol. I watched him pretty closely at the time and generally thought he was fun to watch and exciting but not dominant. I thought Stockton was the much better small PG of that era, both by the efficiency numbers (which are not close) and in terms of the fear he instilled in me, as a Jazz hater, that he would almost always do something positive for his team when he had the ball.

I will freely admit that I am biased against Isiah, as both a hardcore Celtics fan in the 80s and a bit of Jordan bandwagoner in the 90s. In the spirit of this thread, Jordan and Pippen both loathed him. Jordan (I think around the time Zeke tried to freeze him out the AS game) famously called him "pond scum," an analysis I largely agreed with. I would add: dirty player, sexual harasser, and generally mean and petty person who tried to paper it over with a phony, sickly-sweet nice guy act. But even beyond all that: I think there's a pretty solid case for him as "one of the most overrated stars in NBA history" when you consider his lowish efficiency — one of the most consistently overlooked shortcomings among the "player X is best on his team because POINTZZ" crowd — as well as how poorly he aged. Who are you nominating for that title?

(Curry of course is not relevant here, and I suspect says more about your own obsessions than my premise, since I disliked Isiah and felt he was overrated when both Steph and you were in diapers, I think).
 
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jaytftwofive

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Would the envelop still have been frozen for the knicks?

But likely still Ewing - can't teach size in those 80s NBA. Why Bowie went over MJ right
And..........................................does Villanova beat Georgetown in 1985 college title game?? Remember they beat A very good North Carolina team in the Mideast or Southeast? Regional Finals with Brad Daugherty and Kenny Smith, Dave Popson, Joe Wolf etc.... But!!!!!! That would have been Michael Jordan's senior year. He wanted to come back his senior year to win another title but Dean convinced him to go pro. Just saying. Who knows????? I think UNC was only up by 6 at the half after Nova had a really bad shooting first half and won by 8 I think. Maybe Jordan would have made a difference?
 
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Kliq

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FG% is not a good proxy for shooting, unless you want to argue that Artis Gilmore was the best shooter of his time. Peak Isiah was very good at getting to the rim and finishing; that's mostly what his average-ish FG% is picking up. Much better proxies are FT% and 3FG%, where Zeke was solidly mediocre by the standards of his era: 76% from the stripe and 29% from three. John Stockton was 83% and 38%. Magic 85/30. KJ 84/31. Hardaway 78/36. Price 90/40. Ainge 85/38. Dumars 84/38. Etc. Isiah is dead last among all those guys on both counts.

"Outside of Thomas, how many NBA titles have been won by a team whose best player was a small PG?" is of course classic begging the question. The premise is that his team was stacked to the point that he might well not have been the best player on it. Dumars, Rodman, and Dantley could all have been better overall players than him, to name three. As I said, I can't be totally sure of that premise without seeing his on-off numbers, but his traditional numbers are certainly not promising.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure you're not old enough to have watched Isiah at his peak, so I'm not sure why you have such strong feelings on the matter, lol. I watched him pretty closely at the time and generally thought he was fun to watch and exciting but not dominant. I thought Stockton was the much better small PG of that era, both by the efficiency numbers (which are not close) and in terms of the fear he instilled in me, as a Jazz hater, that he would almost always do something positive for his team when he had the ball.

I will freely admit that I am biased against Isiah, as both a hardcore Celtics fan in the 80s and a bit of Jordan bandwagoner in the 90s. In the spirit this thread, Jordan and Pippen both loathed him. Jordan (I think around the time Zeke tried to freeze him out the AS game) famously called him "pond scum," an analysis I largely agreed with. I would add: dirty player, sexual harasser, and generally mean and petty person who tried to paper it over with a phony, sickly-sweet nice guy act. But even beyond all that: I think there's a pretty solid case for him as "one of the most overrated stars in NBA history" when you consider his lowish efficiency — one of the most consistently overlooked shortcomings among the "player X is best on his team because POINTZZ" crowd — as well as how poorly he aged. Who are you nominating for that title?

(Curry of course is not relevant here, and I suspect says more about your own obsessions than my premise, since I disliked Isiah and felt he was overrated when both Steph and you were in diapers, I think).
How on earth is three point percentage a better indicator of his scoring efficiency than his field goal percentage? He averaged 1.4 attempts per game in his career; he wasn't very good at a shot he rarely took. What does that even tell you? The fact is that Thomas was a very efficient scorer for a player his size, a few percentage points lower than some of his peers at the line, but was overall pretty efficient. In the modern game he would have needed a better three point shot, but if he was born 30 years later he probably would have had one anyway.

Thomas is clearly the best player on the Pistons and obviously not just going by scoring average. Dantley wasn't on the title teams, so despite being there at the time I guess you forgot that. Rodman at that point was a very one dimensional player who grabbed a lot of rebounds and defended well, but offered almost nothing on offense and his rebounding numbers didn't really explode like crazy until after the two title years. Dumars has the best case since he was a really good defender and a bigger player, but he also didn't have Isiah's ball handling responsibilities, nor was he the crunch time scorer for the team. Dumars was a better shooter, but at the time being a better shooter didn't mean that much since both men rarely shot three points, and their field goal percentages for their careers are extremely close.

The fact that I was born the year Isiah retired I would hope at this point would be irrelevant. I like to think that over my time on SoSH, I have posted enough about NBA history that people would see me as knowledgeable despite being younger, but that isn't for me to decide.
 

jaytftwofive

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The Knicks in the 90s (especially the latter half of the 90s were ugly and unwatchable. It was certainly not the best the NBA offered and I can't say I enjoyed it. But their entire existence didn't center around punching people in the lane. The Pistons were unassailably a team that revolved around trying to hurt people.

Sure, they had a ton of talent and won NBA titles. Respect to Isiah, who was absolutely tremendous. But it was the ugliest of basketball. It was a team of Wades.
Bill Laimbeer to this day is the my most despised(I don't like to say hate) enemy of any Boston sports team.And believe me I'm 62 and there have been a double or triple dozen. More then Isiah or Ruland or Mahorn or any Yankee including Nettles(so cocky) or Reggie or A-Rod or any Hab. John Ferguson, Mario Tremblay or Dave Schultz of Flyers. Football there's just not that many other than Jack Tatum, who was Evil. I don't like violence in sports or violence in general, but he is only pro athlete I would have liked to punch in the mouth, lol. He's still a jerk today from I what I see and hear.
 
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jaytftwofive

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Watching First Take while working from home and Stephen A. Smith just offered that Larry Bird didn't get roasted for walking off the court because he was white "or something..." Isaiah looked pretty satisfied by that take lol
I'm surprised(kind of) because he's a big Larry Bird fan. I mean Screaming A. not Isiah. Actually Thomas now has said how fantastic Bird was also.
 

jaytftwofive

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Watching First Take while working from home and Stephen A. Smith just offered that Larry Bird didn't get roasted for walking off the court because he was white "or something..." Isaiah looked pretty satisfied by that take lol
And Isiah and others said Mchale told them "Please beat the Lakers and do it for us also". Something like that.
 

snowmanny

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Before the Bad Boy's Pistons do you know how many teams won an NBA title with a small guard as their best player?

Zero. (You could make the case that West was the best player on the 72 Lakers, but he was more of a SG and that team also had Wilt).
You could make a case that the MVP of the entire league in 1957 was also the best player on his team, but I know the counter-argument.
 

trotsplits

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The Piston's walk-off in '91 was also likely fed by Jordan calling the Pistons "unworthy champions" sometime after game 3. I'm not defending cheap shots, just saying that MJ can get on some nerves.
 

jcd0805

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I'm surprised(kind of) because he's a big Larry Bird fan. I mean Screaming A. not Isiah. Actually Thomas now has said how fantastic Bird was also.
I think he can still be a Bird fan, he's not saying Bird was in the wrong just people being upset at Isaiah and not Bird were probably being racist.
 

jaytftwofive

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As usual, Isiah gets it twisted. Yes, the Celtics left early in Game 6 of the ECF, but there was only :03 seconds on the clock and a riot was already breaking out as seen below:
View: https://youtu.be/oRqkFQnGZaQ?t=6766


In those days it was common for the crowd to storm the court and anything could happen. The Celtics were the road team and wanted to get the hell out of there before bedlum broke out, which it kind of did. Daly has to be escorted out. It's the same reason they close off the court very quickly during the finals now.
In the Pistons case during the Jordan game, they were at home with no fear of being of being trampled by a road crowd. He's making shitty excuses because he's a clown and the Pistons were a trash team.
And he and that class guy Laimbeer left much earlier then Larry and some of the Celts. He forgot to say that.
 

Sam Ray Not

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How on earth is three point percentage a better indicator of his scoring efficiency than his field goal percentage? He averaged 1.4 attempts per game in his career; he wasn't very good at a shot he rarely took. What does that even tell you? The fact is that Thomas was a very efficient scorer for a player his size, a few percentage points lower than some of his peers at the line, but was overall pretty efficient. In the modern game he would have needed a better three point shot, but if he was born 30 years later he probably would have had one anyway.
I said it's a better indicator of his shooting ability, not scoring efficiency. Obviously, guys back then seldom shot threes, so FT% was the much better indicator of shooting (heck, even today, FT% tends to correlate better with "real," predictive shooting ability than 3FG% does). Scoring efficiency, if that's what we're talking about now, can be measured a lot more simply — as True Shooting%, since TS% is just points per shot divided by 2. In that regard, Isiah was not "very efficient," even for his size and era.

Career True Shooting % (with points per 36 in parentheses, since it's not fair to compare TS among players with wildly different scoring volumes)
====
Magic .610 (19.2)
Stockton .608 (14.9)
Price .586 (18.3)
KJ .585 (18.9)
Ainge .555 (15.5)
Hardaway .530 (18.1)
Isiah .516 (19.1)

The difference between Isiah's and Magic's career scoring efficiency — at comparable volume — equates to 18.8 points per 100 possessions, or roughly the difference between the best team in the NBA and the worst team. I don't have the league average TS by season handy, but just going by league-wide scoring averages I'd guess in that era it was in the 54-56% range. Isiah was perennially well below that, except for one season (1985-86).

As I noted, Isiah aged poorly (I think largely due to injuries that slowed him down) so his career number is dragged down a bit by his especially inefficient age 28-32 seasons (.501, .507, .505, .488, .488 TS). Before that he was generally in the .520 to .530 range. Still pretty meh efficiency-wise. He cracked .530 TS only once in his career, which is remarkably lame for a reputed superstar, even in that era. Obviously, he made up for a lot of that by being an excellent floor general, passer, creator, leader, etc.

Still — again with the caveat that I would want to see their on-court impact numbers to be sure — I would submit a working hypothesis that he was not clearly a better player than Kevin Johnson or Mark Price, and possibly even a tiny bit worse than them. Put KJ or Price on those Pistons teams and I'd guess they'd have been at least as good. Who knows for sure, though. I'd at least like to hear the case for what Isiah did so much better than those two that it offsets the ~14 point per 100 possession advantage those guys gave you over Zeke as a scorer.

Rodman at that point was a very one dimensional player who grabbed a lot of rebounds and defended well
I'd call rebounding and D two dimensions. And I'd argue that Isiah had basically two dimensions as well — on-ball scoring and passing — and was not particularly great at the scoring part. Apples and oranges, of course, but, depending a bit on which Pistons season we're talking about, I think there's an argument that in a couple of those seasons a league-average PG + Rodman might have netted them as many wins as a league-average defender/rebounder + Isiah.

Of course, Rodman was initially a bench player who played 26-30 MPG until 1990-91, then exploded to 40.3 MPG — most on the team — in 1991-92. The case for Rodman over Isiah is stronger after that point, since those Pistons teams were a lot better on D than on O, and 40.3 MPG of probably the best defender in the league is a big deal. I do think it's fair to say Isiah was the bigger part of the two championship teams (1988-89 and 89-90) than Rodman, if those are what we're focusing on. Whether he was bigger part of them than Dumars is I think a much tougher call. In any case, both those Pistons championship teams were stacked outside of Isiah (and fwiw, the first one did have Dantley, till he was traded for Aguirre mid-season. He was basically their Nomar).

The fact that I was born the year Isiah retired I would hope at this point would be irrelevant.
Yeah, pretty much. Especially since you can see so much on YouTube, if so inclined. Personally, I try to temper my opinions about players who were before my time; but if you have watched a ton of clips and full games of Isiah recently, that is probably worth a lot more than my foggy, hate-filled recollections from my teen years, lol. A bigger concern for me is your continued use of "FG%" as a measure of scoring efficiency, which is exactly analogous to using "Batting Average" as a measure of hitting, which would get you raked over the coals over in the baseball threads, or at least would have back in the Eric Van days when we were meaner to each other. :)
 
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bankshot1

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I'm probably taking recent comments about Stephen A and Isiah out of context (I've no idea what was said) but Bird was very gracious and saved Isiah a lot of grief when he totally dowplayed Isiah's stupid comments about Bird during the '87 ECF.
 

jcd0805

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I'm probably taking recent comments about Stephen A and Isiah out of context (I've no idea what was said) but Bird was very gracious and saved Isiah a lot of grief when he totally dowplayed Isiah's stupid comments about Bird during the '87 ECF.
Yea nobody was knocking Bird. Michael brought up Isaiah and the Pistons leaving the court before the game was over when they beat them. Isaiah said "Well the Celtics didn't shake our hands, that's just the way it was then..." Isaiah has caught grief for leaving without shaking hands whereas Stephen A. was saying "nobody gave Larry Bird grief, maybe because he's WHITE?" Neither Stephen A. nor Isaiah were mad at Bird, just saying he was treated differently than Isaiah for doing the same thing in their eyes.
 

jaytftwofive

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Yea nobody was knocking Bird. Michael brought up Isaiah and the Pistons leaving the court before the game was over when they beat them. Isaiah said "Well the Celtics didn't shake our hands, that's just the way it was then..." Isaiah has caught grief for leaving without shaking hands whereas Stephen A. was saying "nobody gave Larry Bird grief, maybe because he's WHITE?" Neither Stephen A. nor Isaiah were mad at Bird, just saying he was treated differently than Isaiah for doing the same thing in their eyes.
But Screaming A. didn't do his research on 88 because there were only a few seconds left. They were probably told to leave because of the incoming fans. Daly left. Isiah has a selective memory. The Pistons left with a minute or 2 left. They both should have pointed that out or remembered 2 different situations. Nothing to do with race.
 
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Oil Can Dan

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But they Screaming A. didn't do his research on 88 because there were only a few seconds left. They were probably told to leave because of the incoming fans. Daly left. Isiah has a selective memory. The Pistons left with a minute or 2 left. They both should have pointed that out or remembered 2 different situations. Nothing to do with race.
Pretty sure they left with 7.9 seconds on the clock.
 

Van Everyman

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I’ve watched 2.5 of these episodes so far. Can someone explain to me how the fuck Jerry Krause lasted almost 20 years with this team? He alienated Jordan in his second year, tried to run Pippen out of town after paying the second best player in the NBA minimum wage for a dozen years, forced a Hall if Fame coach out, and actively broke up a team that had won three titles in a row. Twice.
 

DeJesus Built My Hotrod

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I’ve watched 2.5 of these episodes so far. Can someone explain to me how the fuck Jerry Krause lasted almost 20 years with this team? He alienated Jordan in his second year, tried to run Pippen out of town after paying the second best player in the NBA minimum wage for a dozen years, forced a Hall if Fame coach out, and actively broke up a team that had won three titles in a row. Twice.
I posted upthread but he put together a deal that had Pippen drafted and dealt to the Bulls, drafted Horace Grant, traded Oakley (whom he also drafted)for Cartwright as well as scooped up Rodman when he was available and perceived as toxic.

Furthermore, he was decent at finding complementary players like Paxson, Armstrong, Kerr, Kucoc and Longley (turned Stacy King into Longley was huge - one was an NBA player and the other just cosplayed being one) and he was never satisfied which is what I want out of the people running my teams.

Finally, he hired Tex Winter because he saw the power of the triangle even though it wasn't highly regarded at the time. And if that wasn't enough he found, hired and empowered Phil Jackson to implement the offense and take the team to the next level even though his predecessor was well regarded, especially by Jordan.

Setting aside the breakup issue (I would argue that he did this only once during the last dance season and the other pause in the Bulls run occured mostly because of Jordan's lifestyle choices) Krause's teams won six times and he definitely had a hand in building those squads.

Krause had his flaws and while some it was him carrying Reinsdorfs water he brought a lot of criticism on himself. But I think he was actually a good GM, if only because he never stopped trying to improve.
 

Van Everyman

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I posted upthread but he put together a deal that had Pippen drafted and dealt to the Bulls, drafted Horace Grant, traded Oakley (whom he also drafted)for Cartwright as well as scooped up Rodman when he was available and perceived as toxic.

Furthermore, he was decent at finding complementary players like Paxson, Armstrong, Kerr, Kucoc and Longley (turned Stacy King into Longley was huge - one was an NBA player and the other just cosplayed being one) and he was never satisfied which is what I want out of the people running my teams.

Finally, he hired Tex Winter because he saw the power of the triangle even though it wasn't highly regarded at the time. And if that wasn't enough he found, hired and empowered Phil Jackson to implement the offense and take the team to the next level even though his predecessor was well regarded, especially by Jordan.

Setting aside the breakup issue (I would argue that he did this only once during the last dance season and the other pause in the Bulls run occured mostly because of Jordan's lifestyle choices) Krause's teams won six times and he definitely had a hand in building those squads.

Krause had his flaws and while some it was him carrying Reinsdorfs water he brought a lot of criticism on himself. But I think he was actually a good GM, if only because he never stopped trying to improve.
Good response, thanks for sharing. I don’t disagree that Krause made good moves that went against conventional wisdom – it just seemed like pretty much everybody hated him almost from the outset. Even Reinsdorf says “Everybody told me to stay the hell away from him ... so I hired him!” Regardless of his success—and I agree it was more than three guys—it’s still surprising that he lasted as long as he did.
 

SemperFidelisSox

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Everybody saw the ‘99 lockout coming and knew the season would be shortened. Krause should have had the foresight to see a Jordan led Bulls team would dominate a 50 game schedule and win a 4th title. I get wanting to rebuild, be a year early instead of a year late, but his biggest mistake was not holding that group together for one more season and title #7.
 

lovegtm

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Good response, thanks for sharing. I don’t disagree that Krause made good moves that went against conventional wisdom – it just seemed like pretty much everybody hated him almost from the outset. Even Reinsdorf says “Everybody told me to stay the hell away from him ... so I hired him!” Regardless of his success—and I agree it was more than three guys—it’s still surprising that he lasted as long as he did.
Yeah, to follow on DeJesus's excellent post...I think the reason that Krause lasted so long, despite being an asshole, is that for about 10 years everything he touched turned to gold.

Ditching Collins for Jackson/Winter was a really ballsy move given Jordan's relationship with Collins, and it was also possibly more impactful than GS ditching Jackson for Kerr. The offense completely took off in the years following.

That's even before the fact that having Jackson as coach was probably a necessary condition for making Rodman work in the second run of titles.

And then you get into all of Krause's well-documented personnel moves where he killed it doing a lot of non-obvious stuff.
 

Sam Ray Not

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BB-Ref does actually have both BPM and VORP for Jordan's era. Here are the top 5 NBA players by VORP in the seven seasons leading up to his first retirement (BPM and VORP track pretty closely):

1986-87: (1) Jordan +10.6, (2) Bird +8.6, (3) Magic +8.0, (4) Barkley +6.0. (5) Wilkins +5.6
1987-88: (1) Jordan +12.5, (2) Bird +8.1, (3) Stockton +7.6, (4) Barkley +7.5, (5) Drexler +7.0
1988-89: (1) Jordan +11.4, (2) Magic +8.3, (3) Stockton +8.3, (4) Barkley +7.4, (5) Drexler +6.6
1989-90: (1) Jordan +10.3, (2) Magic +8.9, (3) Stockton +8.0, (4) Barkley +8.0, (5) Robinson +6.8
1990-91: (1) Jordan +10.8, (2) Robinson +8.2, (3) Magic +8.1, (4) Stockton +8.1, (5) Barkley +7.0
1991-92: (1) Jordan +9.2, (2) Stockton +8.1, (3) Drexler +7.4, (4) Robinson +7.4, (5) Pippen +6.4
1992-93: (1) Jordan +10.2, (2) Hakeem +7.8, (3) KMalone +7.3, (4) Barkley +7.1, (5) Robinson +6.8

TLDR: MJ was pretty good.

For anyone laboring under the illusion that Isiah Thomas was one of the best players of that era, his league rank by VORP in those seven seasons (his age 25-31 seasons) was: #14, #19, #25, #23, #55, #45, #63.

After his age 26 season, he typically did not rate among the top 5 small PGs in the league (Stockton, KJ, Price, Porter, Harper, Rivers, Floyd all rated better, among others); and after his age 28 season (1989-90) he no longer rated as the best player on his own team. Before then, he did usually rate as the best Piston, but in the same basic range as Dumars and Laimbeer. The three seasons where he rated as a top 10 player were earlier in his career: '83-84 (#4), '84-85 (#3), and '85-86 (#7).

[Note: edited for ageism, and to better include bankshot's note about Isiah's impressive early career, which I had glossed over].
 
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bankshot1

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Fruit salad no cherries please.

I don't have a dog in the Isiah discussion, other than IMO he was a major pain in the ass, a pretty good player and a leader on a hated rival, but the stats you provide, exclude his first 5 years when at least stastically he played his best ball.

Sometimes you need the cherries.

The thing about IT and the Pistons during their run in the mid-late 80s/early 90s was he was part of a 3-guard rotation (w/Dumars and Vinne J) that was at the heart of a good but not really potent offensive team, but they were well-above average defensively. And I'm not sure that VORP or any stat captures the intangibles that context does.
 

TiredParent

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BB-Ref does actually have both BPM and VORP for Jordan's era. Here are the top 5 NBA players by VORP in the seven seasons leading up to his first retirement (BPM and VORP track pretty closely):

1986-87: (1) Jordan +10.6, (2) Bird +8.6, (3) Magic +8.0, (4) Barkley +6.0. (5) Wilkins +5.6
1987-88: (1) Jordan +12.5, (2) Bird +8.1, (3) Stockton +7.6, (4) Barkley +7.5, (5) Drexler +7.0
1988-89: (1) Jordan +11.4, (2) Magic +8.3, (3) Stockton +8.3, (4) Barkley +7.4, (5) Drexler +6.6
1989-90: (1) Jordan +10.3, (2) Magic +8.9, (3) Stockton +8.0, (4) Barkley +8.0, (5) Robinson +6.8
1990-91: (1) Jordan +10.8, (2) Robinson +8.2, (3) Magic +8.1, (4) Stockton +8.1, (5) Barkley +7.0
1991-92: (1) Jordan +9.2, (2) Stockton +8.1, (3) Drexler +7.4, (4) Robinson +7.4, (5) Pippen +6.4
1992-93: (1) Jordan +10.2, (2) Hakeem +7.8, (3) KMalone +7.3, (4) Barkley +7.1, (5) Robinson +6.8

TLDR: MJ was pretty good.

For any young'uns laboring under the illusion that Isiah Thomas was one of the best players of that era, his league rank by VORP in those seven seasons (his age 25-31 seasons) was: #14, #19, #25, #23, #55, #45, #63.

He typically did not rate among the top 5 small PGs in the league (Stockton, KJ, Price, Porter, Harper, Rivers, Floyd all rated better, among others); and after his age 28 season (1989-90) he no longer rated as the best player on his own team. Before then, he did usually rate as the best Piston, but in the same basic range as Dumars and Laimbeer.
This also shows that Stockton is vastly underrated by those who say he took Isiah's Dream Team spot.
 

Ale Xander

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Wasn't it Laettner that took Zeke's spot, not Stockton? Stockton was an automatic pick, if you ask me.
 

BaseballJones

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Re: Jordan’s greatness... like so many things before the internet age, it was harder to appreciate his greatness because you just couldn’t watch him all the time. He had to be on a national game. Which he was, obviously, quite a bit, but we didn’t have nba tv or online streaming of games. I watch these highlights and check out games online and it’s like I forgot how good the guy really was. I was in high school and college during Jordan’s prime so it’s not like I was a little kid. But even so, my attention was more on the Celtics than Jordan.

This has been a great reminder of just how dominant Jordan was. Anyone who thinks he wouldn’t go nuts in today’s NBA is crazy.
 

Sam Ray Not

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I don't have a dog in the Isiah discussion, other than IMO he was a major pain in the ass, a pretty good player and a leader on a hated rival, but the stats you provide, exclude his first 5 years when at least stastically he played his best ball.
Yeah, he was a significantly better player before their championship run. I started the VORP list after 1985-86, since this is nominally a Jordan thread, and MJ was hurt that year. But yes, Isiah rated really well by VORP in that season and the two seasons before. Here are the five prior seasons, going back to Isiah's rookie year.

1981-82: (1) Magic +7.0, (2) Erving +6.8, (3) Bird +6.4, (4) Moses +5.5. (5) Gus Williams +5.2 (Isiah #118, his rookie season)
1982-83: (1) Bird + 7.2, (2) Magic +6.8, (3) Erving +5.2; (4) Moncrief +5.1; (5) English +5.0 (Isiah #27)
1983-84: (1) Bird +7.3, (2) Magic +5.6, (3) Erving +5.3; (4) Isiah +5.1; (5) Dantley +4.7
1984-85: (1) Bird +8.7, (2) Jordan +7.4, (3) Isiah +6.5, (4) Magic +6.1, (5) Kareem +4.8 (note: Jordan's rookie year)
1985-86: (1) Bird +8.5, (2) Magic +5.7, (4) Barkley +5.3, (4) Pressey +5.3, (5) Kareem +4.9 (Isiah #7)

Full Isiah tally: a run of three seasons where he rated as a top 10 player, and two others in the top 20.

The thing about IT and the Pistons during their run in the mid-late 80s/early 90s was he was part of a 3-guard rotation (w/Dumars and Vinnie J) that was at the heart of a good but not really potent offensive team, but they were well-above average defensively. And I'm not sure that VORP or any stat captures the intangibles that context does.
Well said; agreed on all counts. But none of that precludes him being (1) overrated, (2) not nearly as good as Stockton, and (3) in the same basic tier as 5 or 6 other small PGs of his era, which were the premises of my original comments. Obviously, he was a very good player who was extremely important to his championship team.

Back on Jordan: in the 12 seasons I cited from 1981 to 1993, the top seven VORP seasons any player were +12.5, +11.4, +10.8, +10.6, +10.3 and +9.2 — all seven put up by Jordan. No other player broke 9.0. The only seasons he was not #1 in the league were his rookie season (when he was a shabby #2, after Bird) and the year he was hurt.

Onto the "Last Dance" era: he was also #1 in the NBA in VORP in each of the three seasons of his second title run: +9.8, +8.6, +7.1. So for those keeping score at home: #2, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1 by VORP in his first eleven healthy seasons. That he only has five MVPs to his name is one of the NBA's more shameful misdeeds.
 
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BaseballJones

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Yeah, he was a significantly better player before their championship run (as I noted). I started after 1985-86, since this is nominally a Jordan thread, and MJ was hurt that year. But yes, Isiah rated really well by VORP in that season and the two seasons before. Here are the five prior seasons, going back to Isiah's rookie year.

1981-82: (1) Magic +7.0, (2) Erving +6.8, (3) Bird +6.4, (4) Moses +5.5. (5) Gus Williams +5.2 (Isiah #118, his rookie season)
1982-83: (1) Bird + 7.2, (2) Magic +6.8, (3) Erving +5.2; (4) Moncrief +5.1; (5) English +5.0 (Isiah #27)
1983-84: (1) Bird +7.3, (2) Magic +5.6, (3) Erving +5.3; (4) Isiah +5.1; (5) Dantley +4.7
1984-85: (1) Bird +8.7, (2) Jordan +7.4, (3) Isiah +6.5, (4) Magic +6.1, (5) Kareem +4.8 (note: Jordan's rookie year)
1985-86: (1) Bird +8.5, (2) Magic +5.7, (4) Barkley +5.3, (4) Pressey +5.3, (5) Kareem +4.9 (Isiah #7)

So: a run of three seasons where he rated as a top 10 player, and a no others where he rated in the top 20.


Well said; agreed on all counts. But none of that precludes him being (1) overrated, (2) not nearly as good as Stockton, and (3) in the same basic tier as 5 or 6 other small PGs of his era, which were the premises of my original comments. Obviously, he was a very good player who was extremely important to his championship team.

Back on Jordan: in the 12 seasons I cited from 1981 to 1993, the top seven seasons by VORP are +12.5, +11.4, +10.8, +10.6, +10.3 and +9.2 — all seven put up by Jordan. No other player broke 9.0. The only seasons he was not #1 in the league were his rookie season (when he was a shabby #2, after Bird) and the year he was hurt.

Onto the "Last Dance" era: he was also #1 in the NBA in VORP in each of the three seasons of his second title run: +9.8, +8.6, +7.1. So for those keeping score at home: #2, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1, #1 by VORP in his first eleven healthy seasons. That he only has five MVPs to his name is one of the NBA's more shameful misdeeds.
People just got so used to his greatness that voters started looking for other players who had great years to honor. Because Jordan should have like ten MVP awards.
 

Leather

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Re: Jordan’s greatness... like so many things before the internet age, it was harder to appreciate his greatness because you just couldn’t watch him all the time. He had to be on a national game. Which he was, obviously, quite a bit, but we didn’t have nba tv or online streaming of games. I watch these highlights and check out games online and it’s like I forgot how good the guy really was. I was in high school and college during Jordan’s prime so it’s not like I was a little kid. But even so, my attention was more on the Celtics than Jordan.

This has been a great reminder of just how dominant Jordan was. Anyone who thinks he wouldn’t go nuts in today’s NBA is crazy.
I respectfully disagree. Pre-internet (and pre- satellite sports packages), it was generally true that you would underrate or fail to appreciate the talents of most out-of-market players. However, a much higher percentage of attention was given to the superstars of the era. In the late 80s/early 90s, Michael Jordan was ubiquitous in a way that not even LeBron was, circa 2010. And while baseball has decreased in popularity for various reasons, Trout is nowhere near as well-known nationally as the baseball stars of that era were. With such a premium put on a far more limited amount of national-reaching media (commercials, nationally broadcast games, interviews, posters kids hung on their walls, sports highlight shows...), the top 3-4 players in every sport were given far *more* attention nationally then they are now on a relative basis. So in 1989, every kid in the country either wanted, or had a friend that already had, a Canseco rookie card, Air Jordans, a Gretzky poster, and a Rice jersey.

Once the internet hit and people were given more access to not only media on their own teams, but every other team in the country, the biggest stars were still the most well-known, obviously, but the available media given to them is proportionally less than it was in the 80s and 90s. I think this is a reason why you simply don't see sports heroes become nationally loved in a way that they used to be. Coverage has become somewhat more dispersed and fandom more democratic.
 

lovegtm

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...
This has been a great reminder of just how dominant Jordan was. Anyone who thinks he wouldn’t go nuts in today’s NBA is crazy.
As to the last point: the defensive side of this is underrated. Jordan with the ability to zone up on defense would be insane, a complete game-wrecker on the defensive end.
 

BaseballJones

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As to the last point: the defensive side of this is underrated. Jordan with the ability to zone up on defense would be insane, a complete game-wrecker on the defensive end.
What, maybe 4-5 steals a game in today’s NBA?
 

lovegtm

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What, maybe 4-5 steals a game in today’s NBA?
I mean, raw steal numbers only tell you so much, but his impact numbers would be awesome. I can't think of any current players with that length-speed-smarts-athleticism. You have to combine humanoids to get a comp: Jaylen Brown meets Kawhi, in all the best ways.
 

BaseballJones

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I mean, raw steal numbers only tell you so much, but his impact numbers would be awesome. I can't think of any current players with that length-speed-smarts-athleticism. You have to combine humanoids to get a comp: Jaylen Brown meets Kawhi, in all the best ways.
I agree completely. Jordan would be an absolute monster in today’s game.
 

67YAZ

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I agree completely. Jordan would be an absolute monster in today’s game.
Use a time machine to take a 97-98 starting 5 of Jordan, Harper, Pippen, Kukoc, & Rodman and see if anyone can score against that.

Bring along the core bench of Kerr, Longley, Caffey, Brown, Burrell. Toss in a couple ring chasing vets and you've got a title contender, if not the favorite.
 

donutogre

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Use a time machine to take a 97-98 starting 5 of Jordan, Harper, Pippen, Kukoc, & Rodman and see if anyone can score against that.

Bring along the core bench of Kerr, Longley, Caffey, Brown, Burrell. Toss in a couple ring chasing vets and you've got a title contender, if not the favorite.
Kukoc would be a huge liability on D, but you have to imagine the other four can make up for it.
 
I've now caught up on all four episodes...and while the content is undeniably compelling, I seem to be the only one a bit confused by how all of it has been pieced together. I feel as though the availability of a lot of behind-the-scenes footage from 1997-98 pushed the producers to structure the documentary backwards around the "Last Dance" motif, with all sorts of time-shifting that doesn't make enough narrative sense to justify the structure. I think I would have preferred to watch a series structured first and foremost around the chronological narrative of Jordan's years in Chicago, with the extended Jordan/Pippen/Jackson flashbacks and character deep dives still there in each of the first four episodes (Rodman's being saved until later) and with flash-forwards to the modern-day interviews and all of the behind-the-scenes footage from 1997-98 used to emphasize aspects of Jordan's entire journey from 1985 to 1998. The need to chronicle how the Bulls are getting on at various points during the 1997-98 season yanks everything out of joint, and gives too much primacy to the last season of an arc which was compelling from start to finish: for example, real-life Episode 4 ends with the Bulls losing to the Jazz in Salt Lake City and everyone freaking out about Krause's comments about Jackson being forced to leave. My Episode 4 would have ended with Jordan reaching the pinnacle and winning his first title, which is what the episode is really about anyway; the artifice of "The Last Dance" just isn't necessary.