Michael Jordan and Gary Payton had their fair share of battles, but in ‘The Last Dance’, Jordan made it seem like he was leagues above The Glove.
The NBA GOAT was even laughing during The Last Dance as he went back and watched highlights of Gary Payton defending him. It was disrespectful in every which way.
Gary Payton did not take kindly to this criticism at all, claiming that the lack of defense went both ways. Jordan couldn’t take him on, and he couldn’t take the legend on either.
Gary Payton Felt Disrespected By Michael Jordan, Says He “Couldn’t Guard Me Either”
Gary Payton always looked forward to matching up against the game’s greatest, and the 1996 Finals gave him the perfect opportunity to go against his favorite matchup.
Things didn’t go well for Payton and the SuperSonics as the Bulls completed the greatest NBA season in history, adding a ring to their then record 72 win season.
Payton looks back at the The Last Dance and says that he expected Jordan to do nothing else but disrespect him. After all, it was Jordan’s show, he directed, so why would he make himself look bad? As a result, it seemed like Payton was helpless against a seemingly invincible Michael Jordan.
Jordan did average 27.3 points per game and won Finals MVP, but that output is his lowest in any Finals series. So, perhaps Gary Payton did have some impact on the GOAT. Of course, you can never truly stop the goat, but limiting him to under 30 points per game was something no other team accomplished, and with Payton being the primary defender on Jordan, a lot of that success can be attributed to him.
However, Payton had a good series of his own averaging a steady 18 points per game and 7 assists per game. He also felt like he could get the upper hand on Jordan whenever he wanted:
“He couldn’t guard me either!” — @GaryPayton
— The Volume (@TheVolumeSports) June 16, 2021
Well, the stats do say otherwise, but Payton’s response is exactly what you’d expect. Payton was always known for his stellar defense. His nickname is literally “The Glove.” He was known for his prowess in stealing the ball and locking up players.
So, when his defense was called out by Jordan, he had to fire back. Showing his true competitive nature, he didn’t back down.