Professional athletes are supposed to be just that, professional.  Petty arguments and beefs usually are squashed once the players have left the court, field, diamond, or ice.  Athletes, however, are above all things, human beings first and foremost, regardless of their talent-levels or how much they earn playing their sport.  If this is indeed the case, then why is there a black cloud in the form of a conspiracy theory that STILL hangs over the NBA some 28 years later?  Isiah Thomas is one of the greatest point-guards to ever play college or professional basketball and was not a part of Team USA, aka the Dream Team, the USA Men’s Basketball team that played in the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics, the greatest basketball team ever assembled?  Isiah Thomas was deliberately kept off of the 1992 Dream Team.  This article will provide undeniable evidence that this was a conspiracy against Thomas to prevent him from playing on the team simply because he was not liked.  Through analysis of Thomas’ career statistics compared to others that made the team, as well as evidence that links certain high-profile players to one of the grossest omissions in sports history.

The Stats!

It should be first stated that this is not a witch-hunt, nor is it an attempt to diminish the people selected ahead of Isiah Thomas for the Dream Team.  John Stockton is a legendary point-guard who put up very similar career statistics to Thomas, yet Stockton was named to the team instead of Thomas.  Here are their career statistics side by side.

Stockton (19 Seasons)                         Thomas (13 Seasons)

18,822 (19.2PPG)                                                    19,711 PTS(13.1PPG)

15,805 Assists (10.5 APG)                                     9061 Assists (9.3APG)

1861 Steals (1.9SPG)                                             3,265 Steals (2.2 SPG)

John Stockton was; a 10-time NBA All-Star, 1 time NBA All-Star MVP (1993), 2 time All NBA First Team selection, 6 time All NBA Second team selection, 3 time All NBA Third Team selection, 9 time assists leader, and 2-time steals leader. It should also be mentioned that Stockton made the NBA Finals twice in back-to-back years (1996 and 1997), but lost in both of his Finals appearances.

Isiah Thomas was; a 2 time NBA Champion, the 1990 NBA Finals MVP, a 12-time NBA All-Star, 2 time NBA All-Star Game MVP, 3 time All NBA First Team selection, 2 time All NBA Second Team selection, an NBA All-Rookie Team selection in 1982, and 1 time NBA Assists leader.

Thomas and Stockton had similar career numbers, however, Stockton played 6 more seasons.  Thomas retired in 1994, and Stockton hung up his sneakers in 2003.  John Stockton played for 9 years after Isiah was finished hooping.  Such a large gap in time when it comes to their careers, yet their numbers were so similar at the time.  Why was Thomas left off of the team then?

At the time of the selection in 1991, Thomas was one year removed as an NBA Finals champion.  The Detroit  Pistons had won back to back championships in 1989, and 1990. Thomas was the 1990 NBA Finals MVP.

Stockton led some mediocre Utah Jazz teams through the playoffs, but their prominence was not known until the mid to late 1990’s era, years after the Dream Team had easily won gold at the Olympics in 1992.

There you have it, side by side for everyone to clearly see that although Thomas had better statistics, more success as a professional leading up to the selection time of the Dream Team.

Men lie, women lie, but numbers do not.  Based on career statistics, and championships, Thomas should have been named to the Dream Team.  His absence points straight to something nefarious and stinks to high heaven.

It Wasn’t Me!

Truth be told, Thomas was the captain of one of the most controversial teams in NBA history, a team nicknamed “The Bad Boys”.  Thomas’ Detroit Pistons terrorized and bullied many teams in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, on their way to back-to-back championships in 1989, and 1990.  Detroit was physical, rough, and in some cases, downright dirty.  The Pistons did whatever was within the rules, and tried to get away with what was not in the rulebook, in an effort to do one thing, win.

Being beaten down, kicked, and fouled unnecessarily hard on many occasions on his way to the basket, did not sit well with the greatest player in basketball history.  Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls suffered a few years of not only suffering playoff elimination at the hands of Thomas’ Pistons, Jordan and his Bulls’ teammates literally were beaten off of the court in every series except for one.  It was that last series, in 1991, where Jordan’s Bulls overcame Detroit’s physicality, and eliminated the defending champs in 4 straight games.  After that series concluded, breaking tradition, Thomas and his Bad Boys partners walked off the court without shaking hands with the Bulls.

For years the two teams played in hard-fought, physically and mentally exhausting playoff battles. So is it inconceivable that hard feelings and resentment would prevail over sportsmanship, therefore clouding good judgment in the moment?  Whatever your opinion on that, the only one that mattered was Jordan’s.  Jordan was not shy even years later about his disdain for that moment, Thomas, and his longtime nemesis the Detroit Pistons.

Yet in his latest recounts in interviews and in footage from “The Last Dance”, a docu-series about Jordan’s Bulls and their last season together, Jordan denies having any involvement in the omission of Thomas from the Dream Team.  Jordan says that he asked who was playing only, and Rod Thorn, a member of the selection committee, said to Jordan “The guy you’re thinking of is not going to be playing.”  Now who could Thorn have been referring to?  Thorn, prior to the year 2020, has been quoted as saying Jordan said to him “Rod, I don’t want to play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.”  That was a direct quote straight from Rod Thorn, but some 30 years later, he and Jordan deny that any conversation involving Thomas ever took place.  Why?  The evidence is there, and if you are the greatest player on the planet, who is known for being less than kind to teammates and opponents alike, why deny your hand in what is an obvious conspiracy?

The answer supposedly lies not in Thomas’s arch-rival Jordan, but rather in his longtime, best friend Magic Johnson.  Johnson, a Los Angeles Lakers player for his entire career, faced Thomas’ Pistons many times in regular season and playoff competition.  Thomas and Johnson competed twice against each other on the biggest stage, the NBA Finals.  Both men were fierce competitors but win or lose, a warm embrace and kiss on the cheek were exchanged before and after games.  Who better than Johnson to approach with a gang-mentality and force him to keep his boy off of the greatest team ever?  Reports are that several prominent players on the 1992 Dream Team, including Jordan, came to Magic and told him to keep Thomas off of the team or they were not going to play.  That is the truest definition of peer pressure, and Johnson caved, even trying to rationalize his cruel knife in the back of his friend.  “Isiah killed his own chances when it came to the Olympics.  Nobody on that team wanted to play with him.”  A damning quote to say the least.  Needless to say, that severed the relationship between Thomas and Johnson for years.  The two men have since squashed their beef and Thomas remains steadfast that he does not believe Johnson or Jordan had anything to do with his being left off of the Dream Team.

Final Thoughts on Isiah Thomas and the 1992 Dream Team

It is undeniable that Isiah Thomas should have been selected to the 1992 Dream Team.  Thomas put down better numbers and won more important games than half of the members of that 92’ squad, yet he was left off.  Why?  Simply because a bunch of grown men did not like the way he conducted himself while beating them on the way to establishing his greatness.  Thomas denies what others have pointed out as obvious evidence that Michael Jordan is the main reason he never represented the United States basketball team at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.  Thomas can take the high road because that is the kind of man he is, but real basketball fans know that the Dream Team should never have existed without Thomas, and they know why he was not on that team.