Gary Payton was one of the greatest defenders of all time. The legendary point guard went against some of the best players in history during his best days and he did a pretty good job making their lives hard. Payton faced players like Michael Jordan in the NBA Finals and LeBron James during his last years in the association. ‘The Glove’ has revealed his strategy to stop these players from having an easy day on the court.
Payton was the subject of jokes when he claimed he stopped Michael Jordan in the 1996 Finals. Jordan’s number did decrease thanks to Payton but they couldn’t do much against the Bulls, who won their fourth NBA title that season. During a recent interview, the Seattle Supersonics legend detailed how he guarded NBA legends. First, he talked about His Airness, Michael Jordan.
“When you don’t let him get the ball in the sweet spot, he has to work more and insert more energy, and when he inserts more energy, me coming down at the other end of the floor, and let him guard me, I exert more energy on him.”
“Phil Jackson found it and said, it’s just too much, let Pippen guard him, who’s a bigger player and I couldn’t post him all the time. So you see me always in the front, I make him work, I make him do it, and referees just let us play.
“You know a great basketball player like himself, he just gonna keep fighting, that’s what I liked, I too kept fighting, and that make it harder and he just get tired.”
He also talked about LeBron James, a player that Payton faced during his last years in the league.
“Don’t let him do what he wanna do. Stay always active with. That’s what I was doing, being active. Poking at it. All of a sudden he goes and I’m still in front, but I swipe. It takes something away from him. He tried to grab again and shoot it, but he went for airball.”
Payton finished his career as one of the greatest defenders in NBA history and now he’s sharing his secrets to guard these legends. As we’ve seen, you can’t stop Michael Jordan and LeBron James, but Payton did a good job making things hard for them.