Every hero needs a villain, and even decades later Michael Jordan can pick his nemesis out of a lineup and call him an asshole to boot.
Sunday's episode of The Last Dance detailed the physical and mental advantage that Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars and Bill Laimbeer's Pistons had over Jordan's Bulls at one point, serving as the last hurdle he would need to leap to become a champion.
From 1988-90, the Bulls and Pistons met three times, including twice in the Eastern Conference Finals. Detroit came out on top on every occasion, crushing Chicago's dreams of a first NBA Title in painful fashion. The 1990 offseason was a turning point for MJ, whose Bulls finally broke through the Pistons the following year in the form of a sweep.
In typical Pistons' fashion, the Bad Boys were unwilling to acknowledge defeat, walking off the court prior to the final buzzer to avoid the postgame handshake.
Jordan never forgot this slight. After years of showing grace while getting physically beaten down thanks to a set of "rules" which literally mocked him by name, the Pistons wouldn't even give the GOAT his moment. This would rear its head years later when Jordan and the rest of the NBA kept Thomas off the Olympic 'Dream Team' in 1992.
Those Pistons are often viewed as a 'tweener' -- not necessarily a dynasty of their era, but an outlier connecting the likes of the Celtics and Lakers to the eventual Bulls behemoth. They're also the only legitimate roadblock Jordan ever faced.
The Bad Boys are the only blemish on Jordan's resume, and he didn't even get the gratification of looking the likes of Thomas and Dumars in the eye after finally getting over the hump.
Despite the lack of sportsmanship, this fact alone -- that they're the only blemish on a perfect Hall-of-Fame career -- only further legitimizes an often forgotten mini-dynasty.
The two rings don't hurt either, of course.