Posted September 03, 2013

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

NBA
Gary Payton says John Stockton was the toughest player he guarded. (NBAE/Getty Images)

Gary Payton says John Stockton was the toughest player he guarded. (NBAE/Getty Images)

Former NBA All-Star Gary Payton said in an interview with Yahoo! Sports that John Stockton was tougher to guard than Michael Jordan.

Payton, who will be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday, asked Stockton and George Gervin to present him during the ceremony.

From Marc Spears’ report:

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 made nine All-Star teams during his career. He was the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1996.


20 comments
pandah462
pandah462

Probably because of the shorts.

Cartesian
Cartesian

He was talking about the mental aspect of it. Stockton wasn't someone who was the major scoring threat like Jordan. He was a distributor of the ball. Apples and oranges here. 

x72
x72

Stockton > Jordan. On and off the court.

JohnLewis1
JohnLewis1

Stockton and Malone should be entered into the hall of fame, as should Jordan and Pippen. As duos. It's very unique in basketball that two men can dominate the way they did, why not have entries for the best working unit as well as the individual awards? Jordan will always stand alone, but there are so many interesting dynamics in the game.

P0is0nedKoolA1
P0is0nedKoolA1

I watched Jordan hand Payton a beatdown in the 96 finals with ease. Payton got his one DPOY after spending the WHOLE YEAR whining about never getting it. 

A lot of you either forgot about this or weren't grown enough to know what happened. So shut up.

thanks

icanhasfarikal
icanhasfarikal

He's a former DPOY and 9x All Defensive First Team. Isn't he entitled to make any statement he wants about defense? It's not like we ever guarded Stockton or Jordan anyway.

CausingChaos
CausingChaos

I didn't even read the article.  How can a pass first PG be harder to guard than a score first SG?  Let's not even take into consideration that you are talking about the best SG in the history of the league.  

YupIamhere
YupIamhere

LOL, MJ talking back to you made your game go to another level, but it was still several levels below MJ's. SO no matter how high your game would rise, it still fell way short Mr. Payton. It seems as though you are talking about an equal and that is definitely not the case.

logue.justinf
logue.justinf

@P0is0nedKoolA1 Actually the sonics lead the series when mcmillan was healthy and when jordan retired again he said the sonics were his biggest challenge, it helped that phil jackson whines his way into about 5 fouls and 10 ft's every big game he coaches

AnthonyPatterrson
AnthonyPatterrson

@P0is0nedKoolA1 

you remember Jordan's worst finals then, seems someone beat me too.You don't have a damn clue what you're babbling about. 

JumpBallBlog
JumpBallBlog

@P0is0nedKoolA1 the old Michael Jordan myth, really sick of them already. Jordan handed Payton a beat down so badly that he was held under 40% from the field, and only scored over 30 points once. 

You seem to forget basketball is a team sport and Paytons team was terrible in the finals. its ok you're suppose to forget that anyway. Stern wanted to make sure you watch the adventures of Michael Jordan and past the myth of the greatest shooting guard ever. You're doing a great job at it. 

drue22
drue22

Going to ignore most of your bias here but the game is about so much more than actually putting the ball in the hoop- there are plays before and away from the ball on every scoring possession that account for the points. Fundamentally, it's harder to stop a pass first PG, because as a playmaker he is ready to connect with one of four people at a given moment to score. The permutations for successful attempts increases, naturally, when you consider the PG as an occasional scoring threat or with additional passes. A shoot first SG on the other hand is going to do just that- shoot. You know that every time he gets the ball he's looking to score, so you put yourself between him and the basket and hash it out. You can't predict a pass first PG, and you can't be between him and all his targets at once.

Matthew10
Matthew10

@CausingChaos Good job for not reading it. He doesn't say Stockton was a better athlete or a better scorer than Jordan. He's talking about who's head he could get inside, and Jordan was easier to get riled up. But good for you to jump in there with your uninformed criticism. 

MikeMatteoni
MikeMatteoni

@YupIamhere it was a compliment to jordan if you try to understand what he's saying...too bad MJ didnt have 1/2 the class Stockton did on and off the court

themonte
themonte

@JumpBallBlog  I read your post twice and I still can't understand what you're talking about...


P0is0nedKoolA1
P0is0nedKoolA1

@MikeMatteoni @YupIamhere you moron, Stockton was voted Dirtiest player nearly every year for his cheap shots on screens & pick n roll plays. What class? Jordan was the best player in the league & carried the NBA to levels he had never reached before & no longer has. 

YupIamhere
YupIamhere

@MikeMatteoni No if you would try to understand what Payton was saying you would understand my response.

Matthew10
Matthew10

@P0is0nedKoolA1 @MikeMatteoni @YupIamhere "& no longer has."??? Tonight, dishing out the morons and idiots, we have P0is0nedwhatever who has little capacity to use the English language himself. He'll be here all week, folks, don't forget to tip your waitress!