Nobody talked more smack to Michael Jordan — or anyone else — in the 1990s than Gary Payton.
Over two decades later, The Glove is at it, albeit more indirectly.
During an interview with Brandon “Scoop B'”Robinson on the Scoop B Radio Podcast, the Hall of Fame guard and legendary trash-talking aficionado weighed in on the Jordan vs. LeBron James GOAT debate. Payton cited their difference in styles, but ultimately leaned in the direction of the Los Angeles Lakers superstar due to his “all-around” game:
“Two different basketball players,” Gary Payton said. “Jordan was a guy who, he’s going to make big shots, he’s going to take the ball every time and shoot it every time he has to. I think LeBron is an all-around basketball player … if you asked me, ‘Who’s the better all-around basketball player?’ LeBron James by far.
“He does everything. He passes the ball better than Jordan, He can dribble it, I think, a little bit better than Jordan … shooting-wise, I don’t think so. Rebounding I think he did, but Jordan did rebound. But they’re two different basketball players.”
LeBron James is a better all-around player than MJ says Gary Payton: “LeBron James by far. He does everything. He passes the ball better than Jordan, He can dribble it a little bit better than Jordan… shooting wise, I don’t think so, rebounding I think he did….” https://t.co/xvp6vaSc6J
— 👑 Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson (@ScoopB) April 19, 2021
Michael Jordan and the 72-win 1995-96 Chicago Bulls bested Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp’s Seattle SuperSonics in six games in the 1996 NBA Finals.
One of the more memorable moments in “The Last Dance” came when Jordan hilariously reacted to an interview with Payton, in which The Glove says the ’96 series may have had a different outcome had he played the Bulls legend a bit more physically:
Gary Payton thought he found a way to get to MJ … Mike wasn't sweating the Glove 😂 #TheLastDance pic.twitter.com/Z8NG7qN5hW
— ESPN (@espn) May 11, 2020
Statistically, 1996 was Jordan’s worst Finals performance, though he still averaged 27.3 points and earned his fourth Finals MVP.
In response to Jordan’s cackling dismissal in the docuseries, Payton recently told Bleacher Report that he expected nothing less:
“It’s like this to me. He wouldn’t be Michael Jordan if he would have bowed down there. Everybody knows about his competitiveness. He was a guy who came every night to play. I respect him for that because I came every night to play. I was never gonna back down to him and he knew that. If it was my documentary and they asked me the same thing I would have laughed too and been like ‘no he couldn’t go at me neither.’ Every night I played Michael Jordan he brought the best out of me. Wish I could have started off on him in the championship and it would have been better, but their team was better than mine at the time and they won it all. He did a documentary, he felt the way he felt. What I can do is I can say the same thing hahah.”
I’m sure MJ (if he sees it) won’t take Gary Payton’s latest take on the GOAT debate personally at all.