Warriors’ Gary Payton II Addresses ‘Butt Slap’ Incident With Jokic

Gary Payton II

Getty Gary Payton II reacts to a play in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Gary Payton II is opening up about the butt slap that nearly kicked off a brawl for the Golden State Warriors.

The backup guard has played an important defensive role through the first three games of the playoffs, drawing difficult assignments that include guarding reigning MVP Nikola Jokic. Payton has gotten the best of the Denver Nuggets big man, including a block in Game 2 that grew contentions when Payton gave Jokic a tap on the butt afterward.

Payton is now opening up about the incident, which led to a heated exchange with Jokic.

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Payton Explains Slap

The incident played out in the first half of Golden State’s Game 2 win, when Payton blocked Jokic’s putback attempt after a rebound and the Warriors hit a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession. When the Nuggets called timeout, Payton gave Jokic a tap on the backside as the teams were walking back to the bench.

Jokic did not appreciate it, turning to go after Payton before Steph Curry and Jordan Poole stepped in to hold him back and cool off the tensions. After the game, Jokic said he felt the gesture was unnecessary.

“He doesn’t need to do that,” Jokic said, via NBC Sports Bay Area. “I just reacted. No need to do that.”

Payton is now opening up about the incident. Appearing on 95.7 The Game on Friday, the Warriors guard said there wasn’t any malicious intent.

“Yeah, like you said, it’s a part of sports,” Payton said. “Just, like, ‘You’re playing well, keep going,’ ” Payton said. “I guess everybody don’t take it like that. It is what it is.”

Warriors Frustrating Jokic

The first three games of the series have been frustrating to all of the Nuggets as they have fallen into a three-games-to-none hole, but Jokic appears to be having the most difficult time of all. Later on in Game 2, after the run-in with Payton over the tap on the backside, Jokic was ejected for arguing a call and receiving his second technical foul.

After the game, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone warned that the team would not be able to get anywhere if they remained fractured.

“We gotta stick together, most importantly we gotta stick together,” Malone said, via the Denver Post. “We can’t splinter in adverse times. That’s our challenge.”

Draymond Green said he doesn’t want to make that easy for the Nuggets. After Jokic’s ejection, the defensive pest admitted purposely trying to frustrate his opponents.

“If you feel like you’re getting under their skin you press up a little more,” Green said. “If you don’t feel like you’re getting under their skin, you press up a little more.”

Jokic and the Nuggets were not able to right the ship in Game 3, with Green making a critical late steal against Jokic that helped seal a 118-113 Warriors’ win. After the game, Green said he felt personally slighted that Jokic would challenge him with the game on the line.

The Warriors now have a chance to close out the series in Denver and earn themselves a break before the second round. The teams meet again on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

READ NEXT: Steph Curry Gets Honest About His Long-Term Future With the Warriors

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Freddy Jacks
Freddy Jacks
1 year ago

Everyone knows Jokic is just a big baby, he wants to prove what a tuff guy he is, when actually all he is, is a big titty baby 👶