A few months ago, Gary Payton said he understands why Michael Jordan laughed off his comments about their battles in “The Last Dance.”
In the eighth episode of the documentary series, Payton explained how he didn’t back down from Jordan during the 1996 NBA Finals and felt it “took a toll on Mike.”
Jordan was watching the comments and laughed hysterically at Payton’s claim, resulting in one of the more memorable moments from the documentary.
He has since doubled down and say he might have respected Jordan less if Jordan didn’t laugh at how confident he is.
“If he didn’t say that, I wouldn’t respect it,” Payton said. “I wouldn’t even look at him anymore, because he’s a competitor like me. I looked forward to guarding him. He laughed. I would’ve laughed at the same thing because I don’t think he could guard me. So if he would’ve did that I would’ve been like, ‘Ha… please.’”
Jordan led the Chicago Bulls to a 4-2 series win over Payton’s Sonics in the 1996 Finals to capture the franchise’s fourth NBA championship.