Gary Payton recalls his rookie experience with Michael Jordan’s trash talking
Trash talking in the NBA always has been and always will be an art form. Among the NBA’s most legendary trash-talkers, one would be hard-pressed to name a more vocal player than Seattle Supersonics legend Gary Payton.
However, even the best of trash-talkers like Payton can sometimes be a bit careless with who they pick their battles with. Such was the case when he decided to give an earful to Chicago Bulls legend Michael Jordan during the preseason of his rookie year. Needless to say, the six-time champ ultimately got his revenge and then some during their first matchup in the regular season, as told by Payton in The Players’ Tribune:
In a matter of minutes, I’m in foul trouble. K.C. benches me. I didn’t really go back in the game much more after that. I remember I finished with no points – played about seven or eight minutes. MJ ended up going for 33.
But that wasn’t the end of it. Near the end of the game, I’m sitting on the bench, and MJ comes over to our bench – comes right up to me while the game is still going on. Coach is standing right there. Everyone on the bench is staring at him.
Looks right at me. “That (expletive) you talking in preseason?”
The wild thing is, MJ isn’t even mad or nothing. He’s chewing his (expletive) gum.
“This is the real (expletive) right here. Welcome to the NBA, little fella.”
The Bulls won the title that season, and then five more before he was done.
In all fairness, Payton seemingly had no clue about the series of events that would follow in the years after. However, it was a nice wake-up call for the brash, young star not to get too far ahead of himself.
That said, Jordan is not only the consensus greatest player of all-time, but he is also perhaps the league’s best trash-talker as well. A deadly combination for those looking to step up to the plate without having yet proved anything. It was only a matter of time before Jordan got his payback.
Not surprisingly, his early reality check would not stop Payton from jawing at Jordan later on down the line. His tenacity is part of the reason he enjoyed such an illustrious career despite the occasional run-ins with the Bulls from that point forward.