Michael Jordan and Gary Payton are two of the biggest trash talkers during the 90s era of NBA basketball.
“Gary talked, and Michael talked,” 17-year NBA legend Sam Perkins, a college teammate of MJ’s at UNC and a Seattle Sonics teammate of Payton told Reginald Calixte and I on the Scoop B & Reg Podcast.
“But because he was so good, MJ didn’t have to talk as much.”
Rightly so! Jordan has six NBA championships and Payton has one.
MJ has always had a good image in the NBA. Role model, Gatorade and Nike commericals; he was the league ambassador. But his junk talk is legendary.
Such was the case during the 1996-97 season when MJ and the Bulls took on the New Jersey Nets at Continental Airlines Arena on March 29, 1997.
Coached by John Calipari, the Nets went 26-26 that year and had a mixed roster of youngsters and vet that included rookie Kerry Kittles, as well as Jayson Williams, Sam Cassell, Kendall Gill and Jimmy Jackson.
The Bulls got the 111-101 win, but the scoring duel in that game between Jimmy Jackson and Michael Jordan was interesting and included smack talk between the two.
In that game, Jackson had the hot hand in the first half. The former Ohio State Buckeye and current Fox Sports 1 analyst had a good first half against the Bulls and poured in a quick 20 points and began smack talking to His Airness.
“Jimmy Jackson was giving it to Michael in the first half,” Kendall Gill, Jackson’s New Jersey Nets teammate told me on Scoop B Radio.
“Then in the second half, Michael turned it up and he started giving it to Jimmy.”
For the record, this was the final regular season game between both teams. Two weeks earlier, the Nets came away with a 1 point victory over MJ and the Bulls in New Jersey.
Jordan had 36 points in the loss.
Jackson and Jordan were both jawing and according to Gill, during a break in the game, Jackson directed smack talk Jordan’s way.
That’s when Jordan let Jackson have it. “He looked down and he said: ‘you know what Jimmy you talking a lot of stuff there with my shoes on,’” said Gill.
“How can you come back after that? Shouldn’t talk stuff to a guy when you got his shoes on.”
If you’re keeping score at home: The two also have gone head to head in the NBA Finals; 1996 to be exact. MJ was a member of the Chicago Bulls team that went 72-10 in the regular season.
The Bulls got the W in that NBA Finals matchup.
But that didn’t mean that GP didn’t have a lot to say. “Gary wanted to prove himself and he knew he was going against someone that he didn’t want to be overshadowed by,” Sam Perkins told the Scoop B & Reg Podcast.
“Gary is a funny guy because he talks trash, but he makes up words as he talked trash. Words that are not in the dictionary.”
Brace yourself, this is pretty funny!
Perkins says that during his time with the Sonics, the organization gave the team locker room a make over.
“They fixed up the locker room & brought speakers in,” recounted Perkins on this week’s episode of Scoop B & Reg.
“They made up all the couches and Gary comes in there and I guess he meant to say surround sound, but he called it ‘surround round.’
Hold up!! Come again?!
“I mean he just has a vocabulary and does not think before he speaks and we got on him all the time. So, we started saying surround round everywhere we went, and he gets mad. He makes up vocabulary and talks trash, I could not understand what he is saying on the court, but the guys on the court seem like they can understand what he is saying. It’s not words that we can say in this room out loud.”
The jokes are all in fun, of course. “Gary was different,” said Perkins of Payton.
“He would go after you all the time because he was “The Glove” and he was very proud of taking that responsibility.”