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SportsPulse: Former Chicago Bulls teammate B.J. Armstrong breaks down the first two episodes of “The Last Dance” and explains why Michael Jordan’s criticism of his teammates was only the “PG” version.

USA TODAY

Michael Jordan rolled his eyes. He had no interest in hearing what former Detroit Pistons star Isiah Thomas had to say.

Almost 29 years after the Chicago Bulls swept the Pistons in the 1991 Eastern Conference finals, Thomas offered a detailed explanation on why he and his other teammates refused to shake hands with the Bulls.

“I know it’s all bull—-,” Jordan said in the fourth episode of “The Last Dance,” the 10-part documentary on Jordan’s NBA career and the 1997-98 Bulls’ season. “Whatever he says now, you know it wasn’t his true actions then. He has time left to think about it, or the reaction from the public has changed his perspective.”

Nonetheless, director Jason Hehir gave Jordan an iPad to watch footage of Thomas’ explanation on why he and Pistons teammate Bill Laimbeer were among the players that left the floor with 7.9 seconds remaining without congratulating the Bulls.

“You can show me anything you want,” Jordan said.”There’s no way you can convince me he wasn’t a (jerk).”

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First, Thomas said that Laimbeer told him, “we’re not shaking their hands.” Then, Thomas said that most of the Boston Celtics walked off the floor without shaking hands as well after the Pistons beat them in in the 1988 Eastern Conference finals. Thomas said that Boston forward Kevin McHale only shook his hand after he had stopped him at halfcourt.

“To us, that was okay. Knowing what we know now, in the aftermath of what took place, I think all of us would’ve stopped to say, ‘Hey, congratulations,’ ” Thomas said. “Of course, we would’ve done it. But during that period of time, that’s just not how it was passed. When you lost, you left the floor.”

Not buying Isiah’s explanation

As he watched Thomas’ explanation, Jordan shook his head mockingly and dismissively. Jordan then reflected on his behavior when the Pistons beat the Bulls in three consecutive playoffs (1988-90), including the East finals in 1989 and 1990.

“All you have to do is go back to us losing in Game 7. I shook everybody’s hands,” Jordan said. “Two years in a row, we shook their hands when they beat us. There was a certain respect to the game that we paid to them. That’s sportsmanship, no matter how much it hurts. Believe me, it hurt.”

It also hurt the Pistons. Thomas conceded he knew what the outcome meant well before the Bulls ultimately won three consecutive NBA championships.

“That’s the only time I think I have ever been swept in a series,” Thomas said. “I was normally the one doing the sweeping. Their time had arrived and ours was over.”

The Pistons did not want to admit that publicly. The Bulls already knew, though.

“They didn’t have to shake our hands. They knew we whipped their ass already,” Jordan said. “We got past them. To me, that was better in some ways than winning a championship.”

Cleveland’s “mistake” on “The Shot”

The Bulls trailed by one point against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the decisive Game 5 of the 1989 first round. That left them with an interesting paradox.

The Bulls knew they wanted Jordan to get the last shot, but how would they pull it off? As former Bulls guard John Paxson said, “Everybody knew where the ball was going to go.”

That did not matter. Jordan still got the ball. He pulled up for a jumper near the free-throw line. The shot went in. Jordan leaped into the air. When he landed, he pumped his right fist repeatedly. The Bulls eliminated Cleveland, but Jordan believes the Cavs could have avoided that scenario.

“They had Craig Ehlo on me at the time, which honestly, was a mistake,” Jordan said. “The guy that played me better was Ron Harper.”

Former Cavaliers coach Lenny Wilkens thought otherwise.

“I said, ‘Coach, I got MJ. I got MJ,’ ” Harper recalled saying. “The coach tells me, ‘I’m going to put Ehlo on MJ.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, okay.’’ “

Harper also recalled yelling out a string of expletives. But the play is not so much of an indictment of Ehlo. He scored just moments earlier to give the Cavs a 100-99 lead with three seconds remaining. The play is not an indictment of Wilkens, either. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame. The play is more of a reflection on Jordan and his heroics.

“We drew a play where I was coming to the ball. I only had one time to get a dribble and get a jump shot off,” Jordan said. “We’re going to live and die with that scenario. So I was going to do everything I can to get the ball.”

Jordan was elated and vindicated. Before tip-off, Jordan chastised three Chicago writers for picking the Cavaliers to win the series. Jordan did the same thing afterwards.

“We finally got over the hump of losers mentality,” Jordan said. “We started to become a winning franchise, and the sky was the limit.”

Tired of retirement questions

Jordan tried to hide his annoyance. Sometimes he could. Sometimes he couldn’t.

Throughout the season, Jordan received inquiries about whether it would actually be his last year.

“It gets old,” Jordan said. “The questions don’t change, and the answers are pretty much the same.”

So Jordan eventually let off some steam. Players often do it with other players. But Jordan did it with a Bulls beat reporter.

“You gave me a good article the other day,” Jordan told the reporter in the Bulls’ training room. “I appreciate that.”

The reporter wondered, “Which one?”

“The one that you said, ‘Quit worrying about what he’s going to do, and live for the present,’ ” Jordan said. ” ‘Don’t worry about next year. Leave him alone. Quit asking him stupid questions about what’s happening.’ “

“I’m sick of it, too,” the reporter said.

“I’m tired of it. I am totally tired of it,” Jordan said. “I’m going to stop talking to y’all. You guys don’t do it anymore. It’s on the road. That’s what kills me.”

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Some of that is understandable. Some local reporters framed the inquiries with the hope of giving context to Jordan’s emotions and mindset about possibly playing in a certain city for the last time. Some questions were embarrassing, though.

One reporter asked Bulls coach Phil Jackson if Jordan should retire, leading a puzzled Jackson to say, “that’s his decision.” Others asked Jordan as if he had never answered that question already. Others were more self-aware and asked ironically if those questions annoyed him.

One reporter summed up the ridiculousness this way: “Are we required to ask every game if you’re going to retire?”

Bodyguards’ nickname

During Jordan’s final NBA season, he often hung out with his bodyguards for obvious reasons. They were trusted confidants. They also helped Jordan navigate overwhelming crowds.

But Bulls equipment manager John Ligmanowski affectionately referred to them as “the Sniff brothers,” insinuating the bodyguards were simply jock sniffers.

Every contribution helps

The late TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager facetiously gave Dennis Rodman $20 to help pay for one of his numerous fines. Rodman jokingly suspected Sager did that so he could land an interview.

Pippen on the “migraine” game

Scottie Pippen didn’t just struggle with his shot or his energy during Chicago’s decisive Game 7 win over the Pistons in the 1990 Eastern Conference finals.

“As the game was starting, I couldn’t focus,” Pippen said. “Everything was blurry. I was seeing double blind. I couldn’t get my eye sight.”

Imagine trying to play in those conditions against the physical Pistons. So Pippen often asked out of the game.

“He said he had a migraine. I can’t argue the point he didn’t have a migraine,” Jordan said. “It was one of those things that was so unfortunate.”

Krause’s more interesting moves

Pippen didn’t always despise late general manager Jerry Krause. After the Bulls beat Detroit in 1990 Eastern finals, Krause showed off his poor dancing skills on the team plane. Pippen encouraged him and yelled out, “Go Jerry! Go Jerry!”

Follow USA TODAY NBA writer Mark Medina on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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