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Gary Payton in-depth on Michael Jordan’s trash-talking “I don’t care about Black Jesus”


Gary Payton was among the few who could hang with Michael Jordan defensively. He wasn’t successful every time, but he gave MJ the fits. Two ultra-competitive players who went at it every night, there were some fireworks for sure. So Payton shared his reaction to Jordan talking trash to him. 

“I don’t care about Black Jesus”

Payton appeared on VLAD TV and expanded on the famous moment when Mike told him, “Don’t ever talk shit to Black Jesus!” which in all honesty might go down as one of the best lines ever said by an NBA player to his defender.

Don't care about none of that. You ain't gonna talk crazy or nothing, so I took it as a challenge to always go against him. He brought everything out of me you know I'm saying and they were always considering him the best offensive player and me the best defensive player at our positions. I didn't care about that. I'm not backing down you play basketball just like I play basketball I'm talented just like you. So I don’t bow down to anybody.

Payton earned MJ respect because the former Seattle Supersonics star fought, didn’t back down, backed it up with his play, and pushed back. Not many did that out of too much respect or fear of Jordan. If you can’t stand up to him, he’s already won the battle even before the game began. In their finals series in the 1996 Finals, MJ scored 23 points, his lowest ever for a Finals series. 

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MJ used the Black Jesus narrative against opponents

Reggie Miller also heard about the Black Jesus story, and like Payton, he dared MJ. But Reggie's mistake was he ignited a fire in Mike. A young and confident Miller said something to Jordan which he instantly regretted. The Pacers star recalled how the interaction went via NBC Sports. 

“‘You’re Michael Jordan, the guy who walks on water? Second half, I ended up with two points. He ended up with a lot more.’"

Jordan’s response was a cold one: "Don’t ever talk trash to Black Jesus."

The GOAT used this Black Jesus narrative to test the characters of opposing players. If they cowered, MJ already owned them psychologically. Looking back, it would be one of the best stories rivals and teammates would love to share. Jordan was mean and ultra-competitive, and to earn his respect, you have to put everything on the line just like he would every game. 


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