Audio reveals Michael Jordan saying he won't play on '92 Dream Team with Isiah Thomas


Michael Jordan denied the decades-long belief that he was involved in Isiah Thomas’ exclusion from the 1992 Dream Team during Episode 5 of “The Last Dance.”

That episode aired three weeks ago and now newly released audio of Jordan tells the complete opposite.

Audio: Jordan says he won’t play with Thomas

Jordan’s denial story took a hit when sportswriter Jack McCallum released audio from Jordan on the third episode of his podcast, “The Dream Team Tapes.” It was released Monday.

“Rod Thorn called me,” Jordan said. “I said, ‘Rod, I won’t play if Isiah Thomas is on the team.’ He assured me. He said, ‘You know what? [Coach] Chuck [Daly] doesn’t want Isiah. So, Isiah is not going to be part of the team.’”

McCallum’s podcast covers the “real story” of the first Olympic team with NBA stars and includes interviews with the players. The Jordan audio is from 2011 when McCallum was writing a book about the team, which won gold in Barcelona.

Jordan on ‘Last Dance’: ‘Wasn’t me’

Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls jumps to shoot a basket against the Detroit Pistons as Cliff Levingston #53 of the Bulls, Dennis Rodman #10 of the Pistons and Isiah Thomas #11 of the Pistons watch the shot at the Chicago Stadium during the 1991 NBA Playoffs in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images)
Michael Jordan is on audio saying he wouldn't play on the 1992 Dream Team if Isiah Thomas, second from right, was part of the team. (Focus on Sport via Getty Images)

Chicago Bulls superstar Jordan spent Episode 4 detailing his hatred for the Detroit Pistons great. It led into the second hour of the night when the 1992 Dream Team was discussed and Jordan denied he was involved in keeping Thomas off the team, even giving the player a compliment.

“You want to attribute it to me, go ahead and be my guest. But it wasn’t me,” Jordan said.

Jordan had denied the accusation for years before the 10-episode docuseries aired. He did say on the series that it was Thomas’ personality, not the player’s résumé, that kept him off the squad. He said several players had issues with Thomas and that it would hurt the group’s chemistry.

But that’s quite different than refusing to play if a certain player is on the roster.

Dream Team exec backs story

Thorn, a Hall of Fame basketball executive who put the team together, also said it never happened during an appearance on ESPN’s “Golic and Wingo.” In his pre-Olympics conversation offering a spot to Jordan, he said Thomas never came up.

And if the NBA champion had lobbied for the exclusion, it was news to him.

"Now, if that in fact happened, then it happened with somebody else,” Thorn continued. ... “He didn't say anything to me about [Thomas], and I certainly had no reason to bring it up, either.”

Thomas ‘hurt’ he was left off Dream Team

Thomas addressed “The Last Dance” episodes involving his Pistons and the “Bad Boys” Pistons-Bulls rivalry. He said he was disappointed he missed out on competing for the 1992 Olympic team.

“I know the criteria of selection for making the team,” Thomas said on ESPN’s “Get Up.” “I fit all the criteria. And that’s a big hole in my résumé. That’s the biggest hole in my résumé.”

Thomas didn’t fully address the speculation about who held him off the team.

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Originally published