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.”
You know what’s crazy. I actually agree with Gary Payton here. I mean at no point did he say John Stockton was better than MJ. That was a trick the media used to make you read a story. Everyone knows John Stockton wasn’t even in the same building as MJ. But what GP actually said is sort of right. There is nothing worse than playing against that the smug quiet guy. The guy that never talks shit and just keeps playing his game. It’s completely unsettling. Back and forth trash talking, whether it be during 1 on 1 or a drinking game or even a video game is the best. But when someone just clams up and lets you run your mouth and never responds? That’s fucked up. It’s a total mind fuck. And that is exactly what Gary Payton meant. Playing against the quiet confident type is 1 million times more mentally difficult than playing against someone who reciprocates trash talk. Half of the battle is mental, and Stockton put the Glove’s brain in a pretzel. So much so that he completely forgot that during the 96 Western Conference Finals he held Stockton to 9 ppg and 39% shooting and then in the Finals MJ shot 45% in his eyeball. Statistics don’t matter when you’re mentally owned I guess.