For years Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls couldn’t get past the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference.
They reached the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals in 1988 before losing to the Pistons 4-1. They then lost to the Pistons in back-to-back years in the Eastern Conference Finals as Detroit tormented Jordan and the Bulls with their style of play.
But things changed the third time they met in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals and it changed the course of the NBA for years.
Jordan and the Bulls were finally able to beat the Pistons, sweeping the series and eventually ending Detroit’s dynasty. The end of the fourth game at The Palace in Auburn Hills was the one that would be talked about forever.
With seconds remaining in the game and the Bulls in control, members of the Pistons including Isaiah Thomas, Bill Laimbeer and Mark Aguirre walked off the court. John Salley and Joe Dumars stayed and shook hands with the Bulls to respect their accomplishment.
Here are the Bulls talking about it during the 20th anniversary of the 1991 team:
Years later Thomas said he regretted walking off the court:
“We all should have taken the high road,” Thomas said during a taping for NBA TV’s Open Court via Sports Illustrated.
It would mark the end of a rivalry that was one of the best in basketball during the late ’80s and early ’90s, as the two teams wouldn’t meet again in the playoffs until 2007. Jordan and the Bulls went on to win six NBA Championships with their first coming in the 1991 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers.