Detroit Pistons legend Joe Dumars was a thorn in Michael Jordan's side, but there was respect
The rivalry between the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls in the late 1980s and early 1990s was one of the fiercest in all the National Basketball Association, and there were no shortage of big-name players on either side. But as Joe Dumars explains, there was some mutual respect between the two.
The Pistons and Bulls engaged in more than a few incredibly volatile postseason series, and Detroit would soon start employing a defensive tactic known as the “Jordan rules”. It was during that era that the Pistons were known by the enigmatic nickname “The Bad Boys” for their rough and in-your-face style of defense. And as Pistons fans remember, they walked off the court and refused to shake hands with the Bulls after the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals.
For Joe Dumars and Michael Jordan, there was a mutual respect
Dumars was tasked with guarding Jordan, and while the two battled plenty over the years, Dumars says that there was never any trash talking between the two despite Jordan's reputation as a notorious trash talker.
“He and I matched up against each other for 14 straight years,” Dumars said. “In those 14 years, never once did he try to trash-talk me, and never once did I try to trash-talk him. It was toe-to-toe, nose-to-nose, for 14 straight years, and we never said a negative word to each other on the court. I respected him.”
“Those years we beat them there, he’d walk over every single time, shake my hand, and go ‘Good luck in the Finals, man,” Dumars said. “And you know, I could see he was devastated with the loss.”
TL;DR (too long didn't read)
- The Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls were fierce rivals
- Detroit Pistons legend Joe Dumars was tasked with guarding Michael Jordan during those battles
- According to Dumars, the notorious trash-talking Jordan never once had anything bad to say to him on the court
Bottom Line: Respect among rivals
It's certainly not easy to respect a fierce rival, but it's one of the cool things in sports when athletes are able to overcome that.
While Jordan certainly wasn't fond of the Pistons during those years, the mutual respect between him and Dumars is a good example for those who look up to them.