Skip to main content

Shawn Kemp remembers the 1996 NBA finals: 'We had Michael rattled'

kemp vs jordan copy

Legendary NBA player and one of the best highflyers in NBA history, Shawn Kemp, made a guest appearance on the Inside Buzz podcast, where he talked about multiple things from his illustrious career. While playing for the Seattle Supersonics alongside his teammate Gary Payton the team was a legitimate powerhouse in the NBA for a few years in a row, which eventually landed them in a position to fight for an NBA championship in 1996 against none other than the legendary 72-10 Chicago Bulls led by Michael Jordan.

The Bulls beat the Sonics in six games; however, one of the most memorable moments from that series was a direct matchup between Gary Payton and Jordan. Jordan was destroying the Sonics throughout the first three games, and then Payton, who was struggling with injuries, insisted he guards Jordan for the remainder of the series in hopes to change things around for his squad. Payton was actually extremely successful in slowing down Jordan in the three games he was covering him, even though Jordan later said that wasn't really the case.

Kemp acknowledges that Jordan would never admit someone was able to slow him down the way Payton did, even though the numbers show Payton did a tremendous job guarding him during those three games. In the first three games, Jordan scored 32 points per game, shooting almost 50 percent from the field, but when Payton took over that assignment, he limited Jordan to only 23.6 points on 37 percent from the field.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

Michael said Gary wasn't giving him good defense. That's a joke. We had Michael rattled, but that's MJ; he'll never let you know. Gary was injured, but George Karl made the worst decision putting Detlef Schrempf on MJ in the finals.

Shawn Kemp, via Inside Buzz

For Kemp personally, going up against the Bulls wasn't a big deal because he felt comfortable going up against Rodman, Pippen, Kukoc, and other bigs on the Bulls squad. Kemp was truly sensational against the Bulls, averaging 23.3 points on 55.1% shooting, adding 10 rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 2.0 blocks in 40.3 minutes per game. Kemp was motivated and did everything in his power to beat the Bulls but going up against such a legendary team was too big of a challenge not just for Kemp but other great teams and players in the NBA at that time.

It was very easy for me, and seriously I had fun playing against those guys. You go through your career playing basketball, and you look for opportunities to let people know who you are what you stand for. Not every day you get a chance to play against someone like Michael Jordan in the finals, so when you get those moments, you really want to be successful and do well as possible. Those are things that are going to stick with you forever. For me to have the opportunity to play against him and Chicago Bulls was great; it was a big challenge, and I was looking forward to it the whole series.

Shawn Kemp, via Inside Buzz

Doc Rivers outlines his expectations for James Harden this season

Doc Rivers expects James Harden to play like a "scoring Magic Johnson” this season

Rivers said he wants Harden to play like a scoring Magic Johnson this season and attempt to focus on being both a facilitator and a scorer for the 76ers this season

Skip Bayless on the 2022-23 Los Angeles Lakers and Darvin Ham

Skip Bayless makes a bold prediction about the Los Angeles Lakers and Darvin Ham -"Darvin Ham is a slam dunk to win Coach of the Year”

Bayless believes that if the Lakers win more than 50 games this upcoming season, that means that Darvin Ham would deserve to win Coach of the Year

Los Angeles Lakers forward Lamar Odom with Kobe Bryant

Lamar Odom reveals Kobe Bryant came to him in his dreams: "The afterlife ain’t what people make it up to be"

Odom has such a strong tie to his Lakers teammate Kobe Bryant that he talks to him in his dreams


“F**k Dr. J, you be Shaq.” - Shaquille O’Neal recollected how his father encouraged him to create his own identity

Shaquille O'Neal's father Phillip Harrison played a major role in shaping his basketball career.

Larry Johnson

Larry Johnson reflects on his college and NBA career while also sharing what Zion Williamson needs to do be dominant in the NBA: "I think Zion needs to dunk more"

We interviewed Larry Johnson and talked about his college and NBA career while Larry also shared what Zion Williamson needs to do to be dominant in the league and why Kawhi Leonard is currently his favorite player in the NBA

Cristiano Ronaldo and Luka Doncic

“I was so nervous, I couldn’t even talk” — Luka Doncic recalled the time he met Cristiano Ronaldo

There was one thing Luka wanted to ask, but was too nervous to pull the trigger on his request.

Paul Westhead and Spencer Haywood

"I drove through the streets plotting the man's murder" — When former Los Angeles Lakers forward Spencer Haywood almost killed head coach Paul Westhead

Hall of Fame legend Spencer Haywood talks us through the night he plotted to kill his head coach Paul Westhead.