Skip to content

Gary Payton says John Stockton was harder to guard than Michael Jordan

Sep 2, 2013, 10:30 PM EDT

Gary Payton Getty Images

You’re going to be hearing a lot about Gary Payton in the week ahead, as he’ll be inducted into the Hall of Fame as part of the 2013 class on Sunday. And given his place in the game, his comments about those he played against are worth looking at a little more closely.

We all know who the best players are in any given era; personal biases aside, it’s usually fairly clear who the transcendent players are. (It’s LeBron James over everyone right now, in case you were wondering.)

While no one doubts the impact that Michael Jordan had during his playing days, individual matchups with other players can be far less black and white.

And that’s why Payton saying that it was John Stockton, and not Jordan who he had the toughest time defending isn’t as controversial as it may seem on the surface.

From Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports:

Q: Did John Stockton ever talk trash back to you?

A: “Never. That is the reason I really respected him because you never could get in his head. He’s the hardest person I ever had to guard. I tried to talk to him, try to do something and he’d just look at me, set a pick and cause me [to get mad and] get a tech. And then all of the sudden it was over. There was much respect to him doing that to me. It taught me a lot.”

Q: You say Stockton was the hardest to guard, but what about guarding Michael Jordan?

A: “Those battles were a little easier. I would have Jordan get mad at me and go back at me. He knew he was really talented and could do whatever he wanted to. But [Stockton] was more of a challenge to me than guarding someone that would talk back to me. When you talk back to me and say something to me it made my game go to another level. John was one who wouldn’t say nothing and you couldn’t figure him out. He’d keep going in the pick and rolls and he and Karl Malone would score a big bucket. At times I would guard Jordan and get him mad and into other things.”

Payton is a player that, like Jordan, used trash talk to his advantage. He was energized by the challenge of besting an opponent, and always sought that external motivation to reach his highest levels of play.

The fact that Stockton wouldn’t give it to him, while playing at a Hall of Fame level himself, makes Payton’s remarks easy to understand.

Latest Posts
  1. PBT Extra with NBASavant.com: Wizard’s defense peaking at right time

    Apr 27, 2015, 9:01 PM EDT

    Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards - Game Four Toronto Raptors v Washington Wizards - Game Four

    Washington’s averaged defender distance to the Toronto shooter was 3.55 feet, the closest defense any team played in the first round of the playoffs.

  2. Report: Chandler Parsons to have knee surgery, could require microfracture surgery

    Apr 27, 2015, 7:58 PM EDT

    Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets- Game One Getty Images

    The doctor will decide if microfracture is needed while doing a scope.

  3. Cavaliers’ J.R. Smith gets two-game suspension for shot to Jae Crowder’s head

    Apr 27, 2015, 7:17 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Vs. Boston Celtics At TD Garden Getty Images

    The Cavs will be without two starters for the first two games of next round.

  4. PBT Extra with NBASavant.com: Draymond Green helped hold Anthony Davis in relative check

    Apr 27, 2015, 6:59 PM EDT

    Golden State Warriors v New Orleans Pelicans - Game Four Getty Images

    Davis was +35 when playing while Green sat, -55 while Green was on the court at the same time.

  5. Cavaliers’ Kevin Love out for entire conference semifinals (likely vs. Bulls)

    Apr 27, 2015, 6:22 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Four Getty Images

    He would have been key against the Bulls to help space the floor.

  6. Quote of the Day: Kelly Olynyk on Cavaliers fans

    Apr 27, 2015, 5:45 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwzjymvhyzgwzgy5njixztvmzwrlzgzmymqxyza3ytg52 AP

    Olynyk finds common ground with Clevelanders

  7. PBT Extra with NBASavant.com: LeBron got his shots despite good Celtics defense

    Apr 27, 2015, 4:59 PM EDT

    LeBron James, Gerald Wallace LeBron James, Gerald Wallace

    Stats show Boston defended LeBron well, he just hit the shots anyway.

  8. PBT Extra: For how long should J.R. Smith be suspended?

    Apr 27, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Cleveland Cavaliers Vs. Boston Celtics At TD Garden Getty Images

    I say Smith should get at least three games.

  9. Grizzlies’ Mike Conley has surgery to repair face, likely 48 hours before timetable

    Apr 27, 2015, 3:44 PM EDT

    Mike Conley Mike Conley

    They need the swelling to go down to get a sense of his return,

  10. Report: Kevin Love seeks more medical opinions, may delay announcing timetable

    Apr 27, 2015, 2:29 PM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwzjymvhyzgwzgy5njixztvmzwrlzgzmymqxyza3ytg52 AP

    Cavaliers gave him a chance to wait by sweeping Celtics

  11. Two years removed from being a top recruit, Florida’s Chris Walker declares for NBA draft

    Apr 27, 2015, 12:26 PM EDT

    Tennessee v Florida Getty Images

    What does Walker’s cratered draft stock say about Billy Donovan?

  12. Report: Cavaliers stated plan to avenge Kevin Love’s injury

    Apr 27, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    If that was their plan, they executed it well

  13. Report: If Kevin Love leaves Cavaliers, Lakers are team to beat in free agency

    Apr 27, 2015, 10:24 AM EDT

    Kevin Love, Tarik Black AP

    Celtics were reportedly gaining ground before Kelly Olynyk

  14. Paul Pierce trolls Drake, Raptors after sweep

    Apr 27, 2015, 9:46 AM EDT

    Wizards v Raptors Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Game 2 Getty Images

    Wizards forward started talking before series, hasn’t stopped

  15. Kelly Olynyk on Kevin Love’s accusation of intentionally injuring him: ‘That’s ridiculous’

    Apr 27, 2015, 9:07 AM EDT

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwzjymvhyzgwzgy5njixztvmzwrlzgzmymqxyza3ytg52 AP

    Celtics forward: ‘I would never intentionally hurt Kevin or anyone else’

  16. Watch Monta Ellis drop 31 on Rockets, lead Mavericks to win

    Apr 27, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    Monta Ellis Monta Ellis

    Somebody looks a lot more comfortable with no Rajon Rondo around.

Featured video

Stephen Curry starting to define playoff legacy
Top 10 NBA Player Searches
  1. R. Rondo (5050)
  2. C. Parsons (4610)
  3. K. Durant (4002)
  4. N. Mirotic (3929)
  5. D. Lee (3903)
  1. K. Bryant (3781)
  2. P. George (3629)
  3. T. Parker (3608)
  4. P. Beverley (3438)
  5. M. Conley (3394)