Magic Johnson has dismissed suggestions he played a part in excluding Isiah Thomas from the U.S. team that triumphed at the 1992 Olympics Games.
The former Detroit Pistons point guard featured prominently in Episodes 5 and 6 of The Last Dance, as ESPN's 10-part documentary chronicling Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls delved into the formation of the Dream Team ahead of the Games in Barcelona, Spain.
Thomas won NBA titles in 1989 and 1990, when he was also named NBA Finals MVP. But despite being one of the best point guards in the league at the time, he was not included in the 12-man roster for the Olympics. For the last 28 years it was widely accepted Jordan had played a major role in excluding Thomas from the team, a move whose roots could be traced back to the mutual antipathy between the Bulls and the Pistons.
The two franchises developed a bitter feud in the late 1980s and early 1990s and Thomas' omission was seen as Jordan exercising his status as the NBA's biggest star to impose his will. On Episodes 5 and 6 of The Last Dance, however, ABC and ESPN's NBA analyst Michael Wilbon suggested Jordan was not the only member of the Dream Team who had an issue with Thomas, and that "eight or nine players" disliked him from a personal standpoint.
Wilbon specifically name-checked Magic and Larry Bird among those who would have issues with including Thomas on the roster.
The former Lakers star, however, has denied that was the case.
"You have to be with each other for two months, and there was four or five guys who just had problems with him [Isiah Thomas]," Magic explained on ESPN's First Take on Monday
"He was unfortunately not going to be a part of the Dream Team because of those problems, because we all had to live with each other for two months, practice with each other, hang out with each other, all those things."
Jordan also distanced himself from the decision to leave Thomas out of the Dream Team.
"I respect Isiah Thomas' talent," he said on The Last Dance.
"To me, the best point guard of all time is Magic Johnson and right behind him is Isiah Thomas. No matter how much I hate him, I respect his game. It was insinuated that I was asking about him [being left off] but I never threw his name in there,"
In the documentary, Wilbon claimed both Magic and Bird had "had their moments with Thomas," referencing tense postseason meetings between Detroit's "Bad Boys", the Lakers and the Celtics.
Detroit ended Boston's stranglehold in the Eastern Conference in 1988 and defeated the Celtics twice in the next three seasons, while the Pistons and the Lakers met in consecutive NBA Finals in 1988 and 1989, winning one each.
Magic admitted Thomas was not a popular figure among some members of the Dream Team, but denied he had played a role in excluding the Detroit Pistons star from the 1992 Olympics.
"That doesn't take away from Isiah's career or who he is as a man, but at the same time, Isiah has to own up to his own problems and say: 'Hey, you know what? I had a hand in that, in that situation,'" the former Lakers star continued.
"Now, did I have a hand in him not being on the Dream Team? No. They didn't ask me who should be on the team. The only thing David Stern and Rod Thorn asked me to do was to call Larry Bird and Michael Jordan and tell them they should play on the Dream Team."
On Monday, Wilbon apologized to Thomas for "getting it wrong" and revealed the number of players opposing the Pistons guard's selection was in fact far smaller than nine.
"Multiple sources reached out to tell me I'm dead wrong to say nine members of the Dream Team objected to Isiah [Thomas] being on the '92 Olympic team," he tweeted.
"Nowhere near that number objected."