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THIS LEAGUE: Isiah Thomas Says MJ Is the Fourth-Best Player He Played Against


I absolutely love this. I respect the hell out of anybody who can hold a grudge for more than 30 years, which it seems both Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas are more than capable of doing.

CBS Sports — "When you put Jordan and his basketball team in the '80s, they weren't a very successful team," Thomas said. "They just weren't. When you talk about Jordan and his team dominating, they dominated the '90s. But when you put him with those Lakers teams and those Pistons teams and those Celtics teams, they all beat him. They just did ... What separated Jordan from all of us was he was the first one to three-peat. But he didn't three-peat against Magic, Larry and Dr. J."

Thomas knows damn well this is at best a very misleading characterization of what happened and is not indicative of the skill level of those individual players. But does he care? Not even a little bit.

There's just really no argument that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird or Magic Johnson was a better player than Michael Jordan, let alone all three of them. They were all transcendent players in their own rights, but LeBron James is the only player in the conversation with Jordan at the top and he hasn't even eclipsed him yet.

But I absolutely love Thomas coming back at Jordan with this, because he knows that no matter what MJ says publicly, this was going to get under his skin. Regardless of if he'd ever admit it, when MJ saw this, he started cussing at whoever was within earshot — and Thomas knew that.

I just really enjoy a good feud. I am generally opposed to the old man "get off my lawn" sentiments echoed by many sports starts of yesteryear, but I think there is something to be said for today's players — particularly in the NBA — being too friendly with one another. The fans paying hundreds of dollars for tickets and jerseys and spending their time watching these games want these guys to want it as badly as they do. It's refreshing to see there are still players out there who hate each other all these years later.