Bill Laimbeer RumorsAll NBA Players
In his 2004 book, Embry describes himself hearing a slightly different story in a different setting, with Laimbeer as narrator and Embry himself as old-but-intimidating comeback-deliverer: In a different conversation with Laimbeer, he told me that after every game in the [Richfield] Coliseum, as a sign of unity, each of the Pistons would spit on my car, which they passed en route to their bus. He stepped away from me as he told the story, not quite sure how I would react, and he seemed genuinely surprised when I said, “Good for them. It probably needed to be washed anyway.” Embry also says his wife, Terri, was particularly displeased about the spitting because it was all on the passenger side. Whichever version of this story you prefer, it sure sounds like 1989 Pistons — all of them — spat on a car together.
The main focus in the latest “Last Dance’’ was Thomas and the Pistons walking off the floor without shaking hands after they were swept in Game 4. It was Bill Laimbeer’s idea, and Boston had done it to the Pistons years earlier, but it’s the way Thomas has been trying to spin it in his favor that irks many former Bulls, including Will Perdue.
“Listen, I actually thoroughly enjoyed Bill Laimbeer’s interview on [ESPN’s] ‘The Jump’ [Monday],’’ Perdue said. “He owned it, he talked about it, he called us whiners, it’s no big deal to him, thank you very much, moving on. But I get the idea that Isiah is almost out there calling shows, ‘You gotta let me on, I need to defend myself.’ ‘’
While the documentary has shown Jordan’s disdain for Thomas, the former Chicago high school legend, Perdue made it very clear that a long line of players after Jordan also feel that way The feeling is Thomas has been trying to excuse his actions for years, changing the reasoning at least four times. The latest was Thomas saying Jordan painted the Pistons as thugs and that was “racialized language.’’
“Here’s the problem I have, and I’ll be very honest about it,’’ Perdue said. “We all made mistakes, we all did things we shouldn’t have done, heat of the moment, got emotional, but the problem I have with Isiah — and listen, those that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, I’ve made plenty of mistakes, personally and professionally — but what I don’t like is when you try and defend yourself as something you’re not. “Was [Thomas] a great high school player in the Chicagoland area? Absolutely. I had many tell me he might have been the best. Was he a great player in college in Indiana? Absolutely. Might have been one of the best to ever play there. Was he one of the best point guards ever in the NBA? Absolutely, and I respect him for all of that. That dude was a magician with the basketball. But what I don’t like is when guys step up and talks about ‘racialized language’ … what in the hell?
“But what bothers me the most and sticks out, when I first came into the league, and guys that I know personally, that played against him on a regular basis, talked about how dirty he was. Talked about how cheap he was as a player. He used to have this sweep move with the off foot that trip the guy he was guarding, and the officials would always put their hands together that they give when it’s incidental contact, play on. And as you’re tumbling to the ground, he would steal the ball and go the other direction. It was just dirty. Some can say, ‘Hey, if they’re not going to call it you might as well do it.’ But what also stood out for me that I never understood, he drove the CBA [Continental Basketball Association] into the ground because [former commissioner] David Stern wouldn’t pay him a couple more million dollars to buy it. How many people lost jobs because of that, and franchises that were legendary franchises like in Sioux Falls where thousands would come to the games. Coaches, players, people lost their jobs, but yet he was so petty that he just ran it into the ground and didn’t put any more money into it because he bought it and thought he could flip it, have the NBA buy it for millions of dollars in profit. “Now he’s out there whining about a personal attack on him. He’s basically trying to get every angle to get people on his side.
Laimbeer told Rachel Nichols in an interview that will air Monday on ESPN’s The Jump that he still supports the Pistons’ decision nearly 30 years later, regardless of public perception. “Why would I regret it now today? I don’t care what the media says about me. I never did,” Laimbeer said. “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.”