Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013 at 9:30 am  |  42 responses

Gary Payton Says Michael Jordan Was Easier to Guard than John Stockton

Michael Jordan may be the G.O.A.T., but according to Gary Payton, the toughest matchup of his Hall of Fame career was fellow point guard John Stockton. Per Yahoo! Sports: “Q: Why did you pick Hall of Famers George Gervin and John Stockton as your presenters during the ceremony? A: ‘George Gervin was my childhood idol since I was little. In Oakland I had all his posters on my wall. The Iceman poster where he was on ice blocks in that silver suit. He presented to all my other Hall of Fame stuff for retired jerseys at Oregon State and my high school. John Stockton is because I liked him when I was playing basketball. Everyone said he was dirty. He wasn’t as athletic as us. But he was smarter than us. We knew what he was going to do. We knew he was going to set [tough] picks. We had all the videos on Utah. We were so dumb. We would get caught up with the picks and get mad at him. He would shoot eight times and make nine. Shoot eight free throws and make seven. He’d have 15 assists and four steals. A complete game. That’s just the way he was and I idolized him. I just imitated him while going about my business, talking trash and getting it done. After the game you would look at my stats and it would be right there.’ [...] Q: Even so, you once said you were better than Stockton? A: ‘I was. I really think I was better as an athlete and in everything all-around. But he was just a smarter basketball player than us. He just got it done. I do think I was a better basketball player. I can do more things skills-wise. He just showed he knew how to play the game and that was the biggest difference.’ 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.’”

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  • Dagger

    “He would shoot eight times and make nine.”

    I guess that would make someone hard to guard.

  • Eldon Khorshidi

    GP told me this back in October. He stays true to his word: http://www.slamonline.com/online/nba/2012/10/qa-gary-payton/3/


    I’d just keep fouling him. He only makes 7 out of 8 free throws.

  • Lhall

    Everyone has their “who was hardest for me to guard”…

  • Enigmatic

    Now I’m wondering if GP ever moonlighted for the Converse advertising department. http://s3.amazonaws.com/effie_assets/2007/1927/2007_1927_photo_2.jpg

  • shockexchange

    The Shock Exchange thinks dating Lola Falana is a lot easier than dating average chicks. As if he could have ever dated Lola Falana. *Welp*

  • ChosenOne

    Unexpectedly, Derrick Rose said his was TJ Ford.

  • Busta213

    Gp clearly has a lot of respect for Stockton, but at Payton’s peak, I remember him regularly whooping Stock in that match up.

  • spit hot fiyah

    he also said the same more than 3 years ago:


  • Ugh

    He does say he thinks he was better than Stockton.

  • robb

    Jalen Rose should interview the Glove. That would be fun.

  • JoeMaMa

    Part of this statement should be viewed with the lens that the players knew MJ would get his. If you’ve ever played a dominant guy, you’re not so beat up if he gets his 20+. You “do your best” and feel well….somewhat contented with that. I can see a guy like Stockton just wear guys down. The guy was such a gamer – hard charging, sneaky/dirty, timely shooting, incredibly intelligent. I could see the guys he played against judging him as one of the ultimate hate/respect guys.

  • LakeShow

    I laughed pretty hard at that too.

    While that is relatively impossible, the dude did shoot .57% in his 3rd or 4th year!

  • The Philosopher

    They loved Stockton.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    sounds like he’s just saying Stockton made him work harder….

  • bike

    It was those really short, short shorts. Threw a lot of guys off.

  • LakeShow

    Less screens.
    Screen’s are a b*tch.

  • underdog

    I really like how GP summed up the deal with Stockton. He couldn’t do some things on the court, but those other things he was good at… he killed guys with his relatively limited skill set, because he really mastered his weapons. It’s a damn shame Stockton had to retire without a ring.

  • Interdico Scriptor

    who else recently said something about how tough Stock was?
    on this site?
    a 90′s dude (I think)

  • Interdico Scriptor

    Limited skill set. Stockton? waa? What couldn’t he do?

  • Interdico Scriptor


  • Interdico Scriptor

    Have you seen Aussie Rules?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Skill set in the above comment probably includes natural gifts. skill set meaning anything pertaining to performing basketball related activities.

  • Interdico Scriptor

    Nbk, defending the little guy. I LIKE IT

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    nah, dude is wrong. that’s just what he probably meant.

  • Pops

    Thats not even what he said, SLAM got it wrong. He said he would take 8 shots and made 6, go to the free throw line 10 times and make 10.

  • danpowers

    i dont know but i guess anybody who ever played against stockton and got asked about him said so. i remember quite some people calling him a dirty player

  • underdog

    Yeah, that’s what I meant. Thanks.

  • CzechMate

    John Stockton on the the dream team memoir. no one knew who dude was lol

  • berkamore

    Kenny Smith said something along those lines in an article (not sure it it was in Slam) about Stock being hard to guard.

    He also said that guys were shocked when they first played Stock because they were SURE they could handle him.

    Sure enough they found out that they couldn’t and kind of had a hard time processing that. It’s one thing to get destroyed by MJ, Isiah, Magic or Bird but…………Stockton? LOL. Smith also said that it’s because Stock had a very plain game, nothing flashy but when you played him…………you were in for a long night.

  • berkamore

    and to think Stock played something like 18-19 years in the league and almost never missed a game. Unreal.

  • berkamore
  • vannshy

    I was just picturing this team: Stockton – Ginobili – Bird – Gasol – Sabonis, pretty dope.

  • Guido

    Exactly its old news…repeated on and on

  • Kadavour

    Replace Gasol with Dirk

  • LakeShow

    And Ginobili with Jerry West, cause i’m assuming we’re doing a “all white team” and south american’s, I don’t think they are white.

    Plus Jerry was better than Ginobione.

  • vannshy

    I haven’t seen Jerry West play so that’s why Manu came in my mind first. And also Jerry is 6’2 and 174, a pure PG and i already have John obviously. Manu is 6’6, 205 and i was thinking about the version of him in 2005, which was pretty good.

  • vannshy

    I was thinking about Dirk but for the sake of team balance i went for Pau, better passer, rebounder, and guarding the post. Bird would be my 1st option anyway so i cant really pick Dirk

  • LakeShow

    Jerry was very good defensively by all counts so it shouldn’t matter he’s a little undersized.

    A “pure PG” doesn’t have career averages of 27 – 7 – 6. He was a SG that was a very good play maker.

    Whatev’s man, it’s a fictional team haha.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    no doubt, understandable

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    West was more shooting guard than point guard. And he played in an era where they didn’t lie about their height. With shoes on, he’d be 6’4″ by current standards. And his wingspan was outrageously long. Like Kawhi Leonard’s arm’s on a guy who’s 6’2″
    In that era tho, Point Guard and Shooting Guard weren’t set positions. It was guard and guard. Sometimes, teams just had a primary ball handler. Point Guard Shooting Guard evolved from that trend becoming more prevalent.

  • Amy818

    he’s just angry cause he and the supersonics lost to jordan and the bulls in the finals