Michael Jordan laughs at Gary Payton, says ‘The Glove’ couldn’t guard him

Producers hand Michael Jordan a tablet late in Episode 8 of “The Last Dance” and show him video of Gary Payton saying he locked Jordan down in the 1996 NBA Finals.

Payton began guarding Jordan with his Sonics in a 3-0 series hole. He held Jordan to 17 of 41 from the field in the next two games (both Seattle victories) before a monster game from Bulls forward Dennis Rodman in Game 6 propelled Chicago to a championship victory.

In the video, Payton claims the Sonics might have won the series had he guarded Jordan from the get-go. Jordan responds to the remark by cracking up.

“I had no problem with ‘The Glove,'” Jordan said after composing himself.

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Payton, of course, is one of the best defenders in NBA history. With the nickname “The Glove” and a renowned trash-talking game that built him a reputation as a tough competitor, the last thing he probably wants is to be laughed at by Jordan. 

But throughout the 10-part documentary series about Jordan’s career, Jordan has not held back from knocking opponents who thought they did anything to keep him in check. His refusal to concede even a fraction of his reputation to someone like Payton, who simply wants to bask in a closer-than-expected defeat, is typical of his persona.

Payton does have a point about his work on Jordan in the Finals. Even in Chicago’s Game 6 clincher, Jordan shot 5 of 19 while Payton shot 7 of 10.

Regardless of whether or not Payton truly got into Jordan’s head, Payton did wind up with a nice consolation over MJ: His son, Gary Payton II, is much better at basketball than Jordan’s children ever were. Payton II is currently a member of the Wizards; Jordan’s kids never reached the NBA.

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