The footage seems clear. Fans storm the court, objects start flying and the Celtics make their way to the locker room early with the game in hand. No such situation occurred when the Pistons left the court early, passing by the Bulls on their way to the locker room in 1991.
Mike Gorman didn’t call the Pistons and Celtics’ playoff meeting in 1988, but saw enough to know the two situations weren’t equal. In Sunday’s episode of The Last Dance, Isiah Thomas responded to criticism from Michael Jordan over the walk-off by deflecting to what the Celtics did to them. Gorman joined Dome Theory with Bobby Manning and Nick Gelso to discuss the disdain and physicality at that time.
“McHale obviously talked to some of the Pistons, you can see that on tape,” Gorman said. “I liked the game much better, this is going to be way back when, there was a physical edge.”
That, of course, led to another comparison between today’s game and the one from the 1980s and 90s from our discussion with Bob Ryan. The physicality or freedom of movement became the point of contention. Gorman misses when there was palpable tension between two teams before a game. He loathes the jersey swap.
Dennis Rodman, Bill Laimbeer and Thomas dominated basketball headlines for their role in Jordan’s career this week. Rodman said Jordan’s teams learned the hard way against his. Thomas rewrote history to some degree, earning a seven-letter title from MJ. For Gorman, Jordan would’ve been great without them.
Gorman’s check-in from quarantine ranged from the day in Milwaukee he learned his 39th season would halt prematurely to discussing the LeBron James and Jordan comparison. He covered both and said that redrafting every play he has covered, he would pick LeBron No. 1.
“To use Brad’s expression, he tries to make the best basketball play all the time,” Gorman said. “Why don’t people like LeBron? All my buddies are like, Mike he’s a blank … he’s a wonderful player to watch play, he’s unselfish, he plays to win, he doesn’t play to get points for himself.”
It wouldn’t have been a Gorman appearance without Tommy stories. He talked about Kendrick Perkins stepping into the booth, and the gift he gave Nick, along with when Heinsohn played 28 preseason games and how he’s never let him catch an incoming ball.