During his career, Gary Payton, also known by the nickname “The Glove” was a great player, but was mostly known and popular for his unique style of trash talking and getting under player’s skins.
A player like that was bound to have a lot of great battles with a player also known for not shying away from some trash talking by the name of Michael Jordan.
And they sure clashed, as they met in the 1996 NBA Finals where Jordan’s Bulls would face Payton’s SuperSonics in a great battle.
It was the time that the Bulls finished the regular season with a 72-10 record and were absolutely dominating the entire league. It would seem they would throw away Seattle too as they took a 3-0 lead in the Finals.
The Sonics would still put up a fight as they managed to win two games but it wasn’t enough, as MJ and the Bulls clinched it in Game 6 and won the championship.
Jordan, of course, won MVP honors as he averaged 27.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 4.2 apg, while Payton on the other side averaged 18.0 ppg, 7.0 ppg and 6.3 rpg but it wasn’t enough to trump them over the mighty Bulls.
Gary would eventually manage to catch that elusive championship later in 2006 at the end of his career with the Miami Heat.
Payton recently wrote for The Players Tribune about an episode of Knuckleheads about the time he entered the league and shared a funny story involving Jordan:
Y’all know that motherf–ker MJ. Some bullshit… Yeah, I was talking shit to him in preseason. I’m killing him, had about 21 and he played about 7-8 minutes. Then all of a sudden, we gotta play him first game of the regular season. He comes to Seattle, first thing on the floor, ‘Pip, Armstrong — the young fella is mine.’ And he bust my ass all night. He said, ‘This ain’t preseason.’ I get a quick two fouls, I sit down. He has 35-7-10. Then I’m over there chewing that gum and after the game he was like, ‘N–ga, welcome to the NBA.’
A classic MJ story. Just another example of why you shouldn’t have talked trash to him. You can’t win that battle. Even Gary Payton had to learn the hard way.