‘Michael Jordan couldn’t keep me either’: When Gary Payton hinted that ‘His Airness’ could hold him back at his peak

Gary Payton said he wouldn’t respect Michael Jordan if he didn’t talk trash to him on “Last Dance” and also said Jordan couldn’t keep him.

Michael Jordan made a plethora of opponents during his playing days with the Chicago Bulls. His Bulls in the 1990s single-handedly ensured several NBA legends did not win a single championship throughout their careers, such as Karl Malone, John Stockton, Patrick Ewing and Reggie Miller who all retired without ring.

Gary Payton would have been a player like Jordan and the Bulls beat his Seattle Supersonics in 6 games in the 1996 NBA Finals. However, he won his first and only championship with the 2006 Miami Heat, a team made up of many big names in the NBA after their heyday like Alonzo Mourning and Jason Williams.

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His best chance to earn a ring as a team captain came during that 1996 season. His Sonics had the unfortunate moment of peaking while Michael Jordan and the Bulls peaked as they posted a 72-10 record in the regular season.

Gary Payton on how Michael Jordan couldn’t keep him.

Chicago took a 3-0 lead against the Supersonics in the 1996 Finals and was looking for its first sweep on that stage. However, an important factor in this event was the fact that Gary Payton suffered from a calf injury and therefore could not keep Michael Jordan.

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Payton, having been the DPOY that season, knew he had nothing to lose when they lost 0-3 and urged HC George Karl to let him keep Michael. Karl agreed and the Sonics won Games 4 and 5. They would lose Game 6 despite MJ being 5-19 from the field.

During an interview with Bill Simmons, GP talked about how much he appreciates Michael Jordan for talking trash to him in his “Last Dance” docuseries because he wouldn’t respect him if he didn’t.

He would end the clip by saying how MJ couldn’t keep it just like he couldn’t keep it, for the most part.

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