OT: Whitlock: The 92 Dream Team took on inferior white players because they were white

Submitted by NateVolk on June 30th, 2012 at 6:36 PM


I happen to like Whitlock's iconoclastic nature, but I don't always agree with him.  Until someone gives me a better explanation for the odd inclusions of Mullin, Stockton, and Laettner over far better and more accomplished players, this one is worth bringing up for discussion.   

I definitely agree that basketball reasons hold no weight. Better and more accomplished alternatives were available for the skill sets these three brought. 

If it was purely present basketball ability, Bird stays home because he was as good as done at that point. Piston fans will recall that Isiah torched Stockton at the Palace for around 40 after the snubbing proving he still was great to elite in the latter stages of his career.

No "Chuck Daly picked the team" either. Because he didn't and the documentary proved that with the promise to Jordan to exclude Isiah.   




June 30th, 2012 at 6:50 PM ^

I'm sorry, but I can't take any article by Jason Whitlock seriously. The guy just throws the race card into things just for views, and I can't read that every time

Also, writing that Thomas was snubbed because he wasn't white rather than MJ blackballing him doesn't make it true. And Laettner had just finished one of the best College careers ever at that point, so I can see the reasoning for him over Shaq (at the time nobody knew he would be a huge NBA bust). So again, the constant race baiting thing is really old


June 30th, 2012 at 7:04 PM ^

and this is not a new story. It's likely that a number of popular white players HAVE remained in positions of greater prominence in the NBA through time in order to retain white fan following--you might even find Black people who accept that this was a price paid for moving the sport to greater prominence. Given the racism still directed at the sport, this could come as no surprise.

I raise these issues as a response to what I see as a failure of logic in your post, not as affirmation of Whitlock's charges, though. What we need are people in a position to know to state the truth of the matter. Keeping a great player like Bird on could have made sense whether he was moving past his prime or not--including just to see him play with arch-nemeses from other teams--and there's no doubt Stockton was a great player, whether a more gifted player than Isaiah or not.

A lot of people were rankled by Laettner's inclusion, though, IIRC. Mullin, IIR, was then in one of just a few years of a career that was often not so remarkable, right? 


June 30th, 2012 at 7:38 PM ^

a perfectly thoughtful post. Demonstrates a serious lack of self-awareness, considering how stupid and/or reactionary it makes you look. This should be what mods are for, since one simpleton can take a useful strand right out of the conversation. (A thoughtful reader would have to conclude that whoever downvoted my post is likely a bit of a racist himself. But you've got to have a certain amount of self-awareness--that is, have a few brains--to see that people might think that about you before you press the button.)

As a related aside, here's one analyst at a black-owned business about the question of why white plaers have disappeared from hoop. Apparently there's an average of one white, US-born player per team these days: 


The NBA had certainly accommodated black players by the early 90s, and was reaching its apogee as popular sport. In a way, it was neat that the Dream Team made the league look like such a happy multikulti affair. 


June 30th, 2012 at 8:37 PM ^

First of all I didn't downvote your post, I've been outside all day. And second, full disclosure, I was born in '91, so my memories of the Dream Team are "asldjg;kjdgoijdhsa;ijg ballly ballfal sjfl;ksj". So I can't argue whether or not people were rankled by Laettner's inclusion.

But yes, I would bet that there are some white players who have hung around longer just because they're white. But I don't think we should diminish the white guys of the team just because others have hurt their image of white players. Like Mr. Yost said at the bottom. Isaiah was better than most of the black players on the team, why weren't they kicked off for the token white guy?

Brown Bear

June 30th, 2012 at 6:46 PM ^

Isiah didn't make it because NOBODY liked him, most importantly MJ didn't want him. Stockton is a legend and color had nothing to do with him making it. Mullin was great so I have no gripe with him, Laettner is another story.


June 30th, 2012 at 7:32 PM ^

Isiah didn't make the team because of politics, and if we're going off of merit, Stockton had a better year in '91-'92 than Zeke did.

Don't believe me? Here are the numbers:

Zeke 91-92: 18.5ppg - 7.2apg - 3.2rpg - 1.5spg - 44.6%fg - 29.1%3pt - 77.2%ft

Stock 91-92: 15.8ppg - 13.7apg - 3.3rpg - 3spg - 48.2%fg - 40.7%3pt - 84.2%ft

The numbers show Stock > Isiah that year.

snarling wolverine

June 30th, 2012 at 7:59 PM ^

Stockton did not have the burden of having to regularly carry the offense when it was struggling.  Malone's presence required a lot of double-teams and gave him open looks from downtown.  Isiah was the guy who had to heave up a lot of desperation shots that killed his percentages.

Meanwhile, those late Bad Boy-era Piston teams were seriously limited offensively.  Isiah ranked among the league assist leaders virtually every year, but he didn't have a lot of options to pass to that year.  



June 30th, 2012 at 8:13 PM ^

All of those caveats don't change the fact that Stockton had a better year. You can play the ifs and buts game, but both of those teams were built around the players they had.

You also can't have it both ways, you can't say that there's no trade off. If Isiah had Karl Malone his assists would have gone up, but his scoring would have gone down, because Malone would have demanded more shots than anybody on that Pistons team.

This is beside the fact that, OF COURSE if you gave Karl Malone to the Pistons and left John in the dust with no one else he wouldn't have been as good of a player. 

If you gave Joe Dumars to the Jazz, Stock probably would have had even more assists, while Isiah would have had less, and been even less efficient as his only other major scoring threat was gone and everyone would have double teamed him into oblivion.

Wisconsin Wolverine

June 30th, 2012 at 9:51 PM ^

I like this back & forth because you guys are actually arguing about who made the team based on performance & politics so so much better than Whitlock did.  great Odin's raven, there's more to the story than skin color!!!  (but why dig so deep when you can stop at skin color & mail it in?)  sorry ... Whitlock bashing a bit there.  anyway, good stuff guys.


June 30th, 2012 at 9:17 PM ^

By this logic we also should have kicked Magic Johnson off the team because he played with 2-3 HOF players on his roster pretty much his entire career. Let's go back and cut all of his numbers in half just because it's convenient for the current point being made. Yeah, that seems about right.

Regardless, I fail to see why people are arguing this so vehemently just because a documentary came out. Nobody was entitled to be on the team. It's not like some statistical formula was applied to the players that got chosen. If a guy didn't get picked, he didn't get picked. Like it would have mattered anyway. You could have sent the anybody from the top 50 players in the league and they would have routed everybody. If Isaiah wanted to go, maybe he shouldn't have upset so many people during his career.


July 1st, 2012 at 10:51 PM ^

If you were putting a team together that was going to have 10 of the best 12 or so players in the world on it, what kind of point guard would you want to go with it? Somebody who was used to being the focal point of his offense, had been for his entire career, or someone who spent his career making sure other extremely talented players got the ball where they could score?

The concern with the dream team was that there weren't enough basketballs to go around. In that context Stockton was ideal.

snarling wolverine

June 30th, 2012 at 7:00 PM ^

At that point in his career, I don't think Stockton was considered a "legend."  A good player, yes, but he was still relatively early in his career, whereas Isiah was considered a surefire Hall of Famer.  In pure basketball terms, it wasn't much of a question at that point.  Non-basketball issues (Jordan's feud with Isiah) were the deciding factor.

snarling wolverine

June 30th, 2012 at 7:39 PM ^

Well for one thing, to that point in his career, Utah was notorious for bowing out in the first round of the playoffs every year, despite featuring two All-Stars.  Isiah had climbed the mountaintop twice with the Pistons (and came within an eyelash of doing it the year before, when he played on a bad ankle), despite not having any real superstar teammates.  



June 30th, 2012 at 6:49 PM ^

You lost me at "I like Whitlock". Maybe it's because I'm too young but who cares? It was 20 years ago and even if they took inferior players they dominated.

Not to mention according to Wikipedia Thomas wasn't on the team because of Jordan, as per Jordan himself.


June 30th, 2012 at 6:50 PM ^

Stockton was awesome, and I just read an interview (linked somewhere around here, I think) where Shaq admitted Laettner was more deserving at that point. And it's just ridiculous to bring up race when discussing the Isiah snub. Nobody liked the guy. Nobody wanted him on the team.

I never understood the Mullin pick, but given that I was 9 at the time and didn't like his haircut, that's probably why. Worthy and Wilkins sound like better names, but look at the All NBA Teams those years. Mullin was 2nd team in '90-'91, 1st team in '91-'92. Worthy never did better than 3rd team, only did it twice, and never later than '91. Wilkins has a better record there, but you don't need another big on that team.


June 30th, 2012 at 9:30 PM ^

Whitlock, twenty years later, engages in the worst kind of revisionist history that lends to race baiting. That is sad.

To disparage the reputations of hall of fame players like Mullin and Stockton is absurd. To pile on Laettner who was phenomenal in college at that point is just unnecessary.

You'd think Whitlock might come up with something better. Then again, maybe this sort of garbage analysis relates to his talent level.


June 30th, 2012 at 6:53 PM ^

For more of Whitlock's racebaiting bullshit. At the BBQ with Hoke and Meyer a couple weeks ago, he tweeted this photo of the two:


Saying how uncomfortable Meyer looks around black guys compared to Hoke. Whitlock is a jackass


June 30th, 2012 at 6:54 PM ^

race baiting and Whitlock has been doing that for years.  Isiah "cut his own throat" by leaving the court early in '91 and let's face it (although it will be hard for you Pistons fans), Isiah was never well liked and didn't deserve it. 

Now to the race issue...last time I checked Stockton and Mullin were hall of famers.  If you want to debate Laettner, then so be it but why does this always have to come down to race with Whitlock?


June 30th, 2012 at 7:28 PM ^

The Pistons walked off of the court because the night before Jordan was running his mouth to the Press about how the Pistons weren't real champions and were bad for basketball. There is such a thing as professional courtesy, and Jordan never gets talked about for his lack of it. I truly agree that Isiah wasn't well liked, but that doesn't mean that he wasn't deserving. Jordan simply didn't want to play with him. There may have been chemistry issues, but Thomas should have been on the team. I believe that they would have settled their differences for one summer.


June 30th, 2012 at 9:30 PM ^

Agreed. Jordan has been a huge a$$ many times, but he rarely gets called on it.

On the main topic, someone (brave) should suggest to Whitlock that he gets to toot his idiotic horn only because of his color. (Not sayin' it's true ... just that it might be appropriate in this setting.)

Also, while I'm here, Laettner was on that trip because he was (and remained, for many years after) a focus-group darling. Why else would they show that Kentucky shot of his for so many years after that '92 game? Great game, great shot ... just not *that* great. No way was he more deserving than Shaq / Alonzo Mourning that year.


June 30th, 2012 at 10:15 PM ^

everybody knows jordan's an asshole. when he gave his HoF induction speech, all anybody talked about was how he didn't need to be such a dick during it. when has he ever not gotten called on it?


June 30th, 2012 at 7:31 PM ^

left the court in 1988 without shaking hands after the Pistons finally slated the Celtics.

Jordan, Jackson and the Bulls called the Pistons a crime against basketball and assailed them the whole season in the media. in short, they were dicks. When they finally got past Detroit there was so much bad blood it could not possibly have been a surprise that they would walk off just like Bird and the Celtics (other than Michale, who showed class).


June 30th, 2012 at 7:59 PM ^

It is amazing how the national media loves to point out the famous "walk out" by some of the Detroit players but they never seem to ever bring up what MJ and Phil said the night before.  Simply put, some people forget how big the Pistons-Bulls rivalry said.  Some guy on sports radio (might have been someone on the Freddie Coleman show) was talking about KG getting all this criticism for not shaking hands against the Heat but he actually liked that he didn't because you know what, KG made it clear that he hates the Heat and the Heat hates him so why fake some hug after getting eliminated?


June 30th, 2012 at 8:24 PM ^

you guys remeber that too! It is why they walked off because instead of being a gracious WINNER...Jordan had to be a total D-ck the night before....it reminds me of how EVERYONE forgets in 2000, Tiger was using the new Nike ball that was like the Titelist Pro-V1 but Titelist's Pro-V1 hadn't come out yet! Most of the other golfers were using the Titelist Professional ball which was so inferior its scarey. It doesn't mean that Tiger isn't great or whatever, but please, that ball was gigantic....

rob f

June 30th, 2012 at 6:54 PM ^

...other than, in that team photo, I don't see a single non-white member of the coaching staff.

As for Zeke, I think there's more than enough documentation out there to convince me that Jordan was the main reason for the non-inclusion of Thomas on that team.