Gary Payton reacts to Michael Jordan laughing at him on The Last Dance
Gary Payton was fuming when he found out his 1996 NBA Finals rugged rival Michael Jordan had laughed at the notion of his defense being a problem back in the day.
Jordan’s hearty laugh soon went viral and became the next meme sensation from many that stemmed from “The Last Dance” — one Payton is still reminded of to this day:
“Oh you know I was hot! I was thinking about calling him at the time!” Payton told The Opinionated Podcast. “But you know what, that’s what I expect out of Mike, because I would have said the same thing. I’m not going to admit to nothing, I’m not going to admit to someone that D’d me up. I will always tell you at any time in my career, nobody gave me problems but one person and that’s John Stockton to me. So you know that is just the way the game goes.”
Jordan was played a video clip of Payton saying he wished he had been switched onto Jordan before his Seattle SuperSonics fell to a 3-0 hole in the series, which incited Jordan’s laughter and a simple response: “I had no problem (dealing) with The Glove.”
Payton however, doesn’t need Jordan to recognize him as an elite-caliber defender, nor is he expecting him to own up to that:
“I’m not mad at Mike, because Mike didn’t have too many games that somebody D’d him up. He always was dominant but I think me and [Pistons point guard] Joe Dumars were a thorn in his side, I really do think that. And I’m glad he said that because I wouldn’t expect nothing else from him. I don’t expect nothing else from Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan is Michael Jordan, that’s why we talk about him, that’s why we see a 10-week, Last Dance on him, because that’s just the way it is.
“He is the guy that we’re all talking about as the greatest basketball player that ever played and that’s fine and I don’t expect nothing less from him.”
Jordan’s shooting percentages noticeable went down after Game 3 of the series and Payton had something to do with that. His former coach George Karl also jumped to his defense, claiming Jordan averaged only 23 points per game in the last three games of the series.