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Aces’ Bill Laimbeer stands by decision to walk off floor against Chicago

Updated April 27, 2020 - 3:45 pm

Aces coach and former Detroit Pistons big man Bill Laimbeer said Monday he does not regret walking off the court with 7.9 seconds remaining and not shaking hands with the Bulls in the decisive Game 4 of the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals against the Chicago Bulls.

“I don’t care what the media says about me. I never did,” Laimbeer told ESPN’s “The Jump.” “If I did, I’d be a basket case, especially back then.”

The Pistons’ rivalry with the Bulls was showcased Sunday during ESPN’s docuseries “The Last Dance,” which chronicles Michael Jordan and the Bulls’ dynasty.

Detroit eliminated the Bulls from the NBA’s postseason from 1988 to 1990 en route to three NBA Finals appearances and two championships, but Chicago broke through in 1991 and swept the Pistons. Former Detroit point guard Isiah Thomas says Laimbeer encouraged his teammates to walk off the floor without shaking hands with Bulls players.

On Monday, Laimbeer stood by the decision. He also declined an interview with the Review-Journal.

“They whined and cried for a year and a half about how bad we were for the game, but more importantly, they said we were bad people,” said Laimbeer, who averaged 12.9 points and 9.7 rebounds during his 14-year NBA career. “We weren’t bad people. We were just basketball players winning, and that really stuck with me because they didn’t know who we were or what we were about as individuals and our family life.

“But all that whining they did, I didn’t want to shake their hand. They were just whiners,” he added. “They won the series. Give him credit: We got old, they got past us. But OK, move on.”

Thomas, however, laments the decision to walk off the floor.

“We were coming down, Michael Jordan was coming up,” Thomas told ESPN on Monday. “Looking back, over the years, had we had the opportunity to do it all over again, I think all of us would make a different decision.”

Contact sports reporter Sam Gordon at [email protected] Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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