Gary Payton Talks Michael Jordan's 'The Last Dance,' Kobe Bryant in B/R AMA

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 5, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks' Gary Payton speaks to reporters in Portland, Ore., Saturday, Feb. 22, 2003. Payton, a nine-time NBA All-Star, was scheduled to play his first game with the Bucks on Saturday night against the Portland Trail Blazers after being traded from the Seattle SuperSonics on Thursday. (AP Photo/Eric Cable)
ERIC CABLE/Associated Press

Gary Payton is widely regarded as one of the best NBA players from the 1990s. He's best known for his 13-year tenure with the Seattle SuperSonics from 1990-2003.

During his career, Payton was named to the All-Star and All-NBA teams nine times. He won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award during the 1995-96 season after leading the league with 2.9 steals per game. 

After one-year stints with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, Payton won his first NBA championship as a member of the 2005-06 Miami Heat. The Glove played two years in Miami before retiring after the 2006-07 season. 

Payton was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. His No. 20 was retired by his alma mater at Oregon State during the 1996-97 college basketball season.

Never one to back down from a challenge, Payton sat down with Bleacher Report for an AMA session to answer questions about everything from Michael Jordan's comments on The Last Dance to playing with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles and much more. 

The following is the full transcript from the AMA session.

@krob89: How did you feel about MJ laughing at you on the Last Dance doc?

It's like this to me. He wouldn't be Michael Jordan if he would have bowed down there. Everybody knows about his competitiveness. He was a guy who came every night to play. I respect him for that because I came every night to play. I was never gonna back down to him and he knew that. If it was my documentary and they asked me the same thing I would have laughed too and been like "no he couldn't go at me neither."  Every night I played Michael Jordan he brought the best out of me. Wish I could have started off on him in the championship and it would have been better, but their team was better than mine at the time and they won it all. He did a documentary, he felt the way he felt. What I can do is I can say the same thing hahaha.

@unclekevin22: What was it like to play with Kobe?

I caught Kobe when he was going through a lot with what happened in Denver. I got a chance to be his big brother. I got to know him as Kobe and not as what people were talking about with what him and Shaq were doing. Shaq is my brother and I love him to death. That's the reason I went to the Lakers. To get to know Kobe the way I did was a pleasure. I hate that he's gone and I hate that he's not here. I miss him so much and talking to him and my kids talking to him. I love him because he's a warrior too. He wanted things on his own and he wanted to do things on his own. When he decided to go and say he wanted the team on his own I said congratulations, beautiful. That's what you're supposed to do if you want to be a great and he was a great. He didn't act like he was bigger than anyone. He asked me questions all the time and I gave him answers. It was my duty to tell him the right way to do things and it was a pleasure for me to be in his life and know him the way I did for the forty years he was on this Earth.

@Sasha_Kaun: If you were still playing today, who's the player you'd most like to guard?

I would want to guard all of them. No more hand checking so you can touch them. But the one I would want the most is Morant. I think he has that dog that I have in myself, especially the way they are running. I would want my rules to come back and let us play and let the defensive player have an advantage to play.

@vera: Who's the best trash-talkers you ever faced?

Basically Larry Bird was really marvelous. Reggie Miller could do it a lot, Michael would do a lot of things too but you really had to get him going. But the greatest one is me. Rasheed Wallace was good but he was doing it at the refs.

@fitchkarma66: What was the funniest moment of your career?

Playing against Manute Bol. He's a skinny guy but he is shooting threes. He's putting his elbow on the top of my head and relaxing. He was a funny guy. Rest in peace to him.


@SharkAttack23: What is your all-time starting 5?

I don't like to pick starting 5's because it's all about suggestions. I got a couple. The only person I'd put at the 1 is Stockton. Magic at the 2. Michael at the 3. Wilt at the 5. I like Bird and Kareem but then I'm leaving guys out like LeBron. That's why I don't like about picking a starting 5.

@keegandyap: Who gave you the nickname "The Glove"?

In 1993 my cousin, Glen King. We were playing against the Suns in the WCF when it went to Game 7. My cousin called me after the game and called me ‘glove, glove, glove.' ‘Why do you call me that?' ‘Because you just held Kevin Johnson in your hand like a baseball glove.' Then the NBA picked it up and we started putting out apparel for it. Next thing you know everything took off.

@jonwilliams: What player in the NBA do you think plays most similarly to your style?

That's kind of hard. I'd say nobody, but guys like Marcus Smart does a great job on defense, he's starting to pick up his offense. My game was usually in the block. Beverley as well, he plays the defensive side. The only guy that can play 1-on-1 like me is Marcus Smart on being a defender.

@noneil09: What was it like being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame?

The whole experience of being around the old school Hall of Famers who are already there and then for me to have John Stockton and George Gervin induct me into the Hall of Fame was a big moment. My truly big moment was to have my two parents there who are now deceased. Let them see what they created, they got me to a point where I got to the Hall of Fame. Nobody ever thought a kid coming out of Oakland, California the way I did would be a Hall of Famer. My father would drive me from playground to playground. He was the father to all the other guys who didn't have fathers. For them to be there to watch me go into the Hall of Fame was really great.

What are you doing with the Mountain Dew three-point contest this weekend?

We're giving out scholarships to two wonderful students who have achieved a lot and it's going to be big for them. Going back to the black colleges and what they are going to give out is really great. I want people to help these students where they need to get. Help them get out of their cities that are struggling and need to get to the next level.