Gary Payton on Michael Jordan laughing at him: ‘You know I was hot’

ESPN’s documentary series “The Last Dance” provided plenty of viral moments, especially when director Jason Hehir gave Michael Jordan an iPad.

Instead of asking Jordan about what a teammate or rival had said, Hehir occasionally handed Jordan a tablet with video footage from a previous interview. It was an ingenious move because it allowed viewers to see all of the emotions on Jordan’s face in real time.

In Episode 8, former SuperSonics guard Gary Payton, who battled against Jordan and the Bulls in the 1996 NBA Finals, described his defensive strategy against the six-time NBA champion. Payton said he kept trying to tire Jordan out, and “The Glove” felt his physicality “took a toll” on Jordan.

After hearing Payton’s comments, Jordan couldn’t help but laugh. A new meme was born.

“I had no problem with ‘The Glove.’ I had no problem with Gary Payton,” Jordan said.  

Payton didn’t appreciate that response, but he understood it. On “The Opinionated 7-footers” podcast, the Hall of Famer told Ryan Hollins and Brendan Haywood that he wouldn’t expect anything less from MJ.

“Oh, you know I was hot,” Payton said. “I was thinking about calling him at the time. … But you know what, that’s what I expect out of Mike because I would’ve said the same thing. I would’ve said the same thing. You know me, B. I’m not gonna admit to nothing, man. I’m not gonna admit to somebody that D’d me up or did nothing.

“I’ll always tell you any time in my career, nobody gave me problems but one person, and that’s John Stockton to me. That is just the way the game goes. I’m not mad at Mike because Mike didn’t have too many games that nobody D’d him up. He always was dominant. But I think me and [former Pistons guard] Joe Dumars was a thorn in his side. I really do think that.”

The game film and stats show Payton impacted Jordan’s performance, but Chicago still won that series in six games. An intense competitor like Jordan would never give credit to an opponent after walking away with the Larry O’Brien trophy.

It’s unfortunate that Payton didn’t follow through and reach out to Jordan, though. That conversation would have been highly entertaining.

Could someone get these guys on a Zoom call and record the whole thing?

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