Gary Payton reveals who gave him the most trouble on defense
Paul Lintag on Nov 23, 2016 08:07 AM
Gary Payton is a defensive genius but even "The Glove" didn't fit on some players.
Gary Payton shut down a lot of NBA players during his prime. However, there was one particular player that the Seattle Supersonics legend admitted gave him the most trouble on the court.
No, it's not Michael Jordan. It's actually a rival of the GOAT's.
The man known as “The Glove” said that former Utah Jazz point guard John Stockton was one of the hardest players to guard in the NBA back in the day.
"The guy that I really wanted to shut down, and it took a while for me to do it, was John Stockton," Payton recalled, during an interview at the NBA Store in Glorietta.
The one-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat and Basketball Hall of Famer said that Stockton, also a Hall-of-Famer, wasn’t the most athletic player ever, but he made good use of his “edge” to terrorize defenders.
In the Philippines for a third time to help open the Cebu branch of the NBA Store, Payton added that aside from his uncanny ability to run the Jazz offense, Stockton was also one of the best at setting screens and playing physical.
"We had video on this guy and we knew he was gonna set picks, we knew the plays they were gonna play, but we were so silly that we'd get caught on the picks. I like basketball players to get an edge. We're not out here to be nice with each other, we're trying to win and that what he did and they did it for so long," Payton said of Stockton and his Jazz, a team that served as a Western Conference rival for Seattle for the majority of the 1990s.
Of course, Payton also has a special place for Jordan, especially since his Sonics faced off against the Bulls in the 1996 NBA Finals, the same season he won Defensive Player of the Year.
"But the most fun and the most time to look forward to was Michael Jordan. I looked forward to guarding him," the former no. 2 overall pick said. "I was known as the best defensive player in the NBA at that time so I looked forward to it. I won it [Defensive Player of the Year] that year, [but] I got hurt the series before it against Utah, [and] couldn't guard him in the first three [games],"
Chicago wound up taking a commanding 3-0 series lead in those outings, with Jordan going for 31 points per game. Payton did get to guard Jordan in the next three games, and Seattle ended up extending the series to Game 6 before losing. Jordan averaged 23.6 points in that latter span.
"Then I guarded him in the last three, [and it] changed the game around a little bit. We won a couple of games but it was just too late at that time. They were the better team," Payton admitted.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8