Skip to main content

Gary Payton remembers getting schooled by Larry Bird: "I am going to make sure I tell you where I am going to shot the ball at"

Gary Payton recalls getting schooled by Larry Bird early on in his career
Gary Payton remembers getting schooled by Larry Bird: "I am not going to mess with you no more"

Bird schooled Payton on the court by telling him exactly what he would do before he did it.

Throughout the years, countless stories resurfaced that prove Larry Bird is a trash-talking genius. Unlike some players who only talk, Bird always backed up his trash-talking by doing what he said he would do, and usually, that meant scoring buckets at will from almost any position on the floor. Bird didn't care who was guarding him, and most of the time, the opposing teams would put their best guys to try and stop Bird, and most of them usually failed in doing so.

Payton had to learn about trash-talking the hard way

Gary Payton, known as one of the greatest perimeter defenders in the history of the NBA and the only point guard to win the DPOY, talked about one of his first encounters with Bird in the early '90s. Remember, at that time, Bird was already at the end of his career, struggling with back injuries and being a shadow of his former self. However, that didn't stop him from schooling Payton on the court by telling him exactly what he would do before he did it.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Right at the Garden on his last leg, we are playing them, and he told me, 'young fella, let me tell you something. I'm going to jump anywhere I want too. You are supposed to be a great defender. I am going to make sure I tell you where I am going to shot the ball at. I was like, come on, man; you are not going to shoot the ball. So he said I will take you to that corner there, and I will give you something, and it's going to be this jumper.

Gary Payton

Larry told you what he was going to do to you

That statement by Bird fired up Payton, who didn't think there was a chance Bird would do what he said he would do on offense. Payton was still young and inexperienced at the time; while Bird had so many tricks up his sleeve, he could hurt you in numerous ways on offense. So Payton tried to slow down Bird by playing pesky defense, but Bird took his time, got to the spot he wanted to, and did exactly what he said he would do - drain a jumper in Payton's face.

So all of a sudden, we are playing, and I am d-ing him up, and he slow balled me. He went right to that corner, and I am up on him; I am under him. He said, young fella, what did I tell you I was going to do? He turned around, raised up, and it was all net. I said s**t, I am not going to mess with you no more. That is a veteran knowing he can play and what he can do. He knew I was smaller than him, he could shot over me, and he can create space. He knew how to neutralize me by turning his back and make me have to go through him. If I reach on him, he would turn and spin and get away from me. That is just being smart about the game.

Gary Payton

From that moment, Payton understood why Bird was considered the best player in the NBA for a long time and an ultimate trash-talker who doesn't back down from a challenge he sets for himself. Even when he was at the tail end of his career, no longer at 100 percent, Bird had a mindset of a champion and was an ultimate competitor ready to take on any challenge. Payton himself had a very similar mentality throughout his career. Even though Payton was often the smallest player on the court, his impact was tremendous, which he proved numerous times in his HOF career. He probably learned a thing or two from Larry Legend himself during those times they played each other at the end of Bird's career.

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo

“I appreciate the compliment. It's not going to soften me at all.” — Steph Curry brushes off Giannis Antetokounmpo calling him the “best player in the world”

Compliment or not, Steph Curry says he’s not going to let Giannis Antetokounmpo get into his head with some gamesmanship.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook

"We can be unstoppable in my opinion" - Russell Westbrook does not mind coming off the bench for the Los Angeles Lakers

Nothing screams soap opera in the making more than the current situation of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Boston Celtics forward Larry Bird and Atlanta Hawks forward Dominique Wilkins

“I did not shake Larry Bird’s hand for 13 years” — Dominique Wilkins reveals the truth about his rivalry with Larry Bird

Wilkins said that he and Larry never really had to talk or shake hands to let each other know that the respect was there.

Los Angeles Lakers small forward Kobe Bryant and San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker

How Kobe Bryant learned to speak french so he could trash talk Tony Parker

Tony Parker did his best not to react to Kobe Bryant's french but deep inside he couldn't stop laughing.

Elton John and Philadelphia 76ers forward Elton Brand

“Well you rebound like Elton John” — Elton Brand explains why he only lasted 24 hours on Twitter

Elton Brand did not find social media useful. Instead, he saw it as a platform where random people can easily insult him.

Karl-Malone-John-Stockton

“They should be honored because they got to play with me” — Greg Ostertag's epic tribute to Karl Malone and John Stockton

Ostertag explained why Stockton and Malone should be everyone's rolemodels if they want to be great in the NBA.