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Michael Jordan May Have Laughed, But Gary Payton Wasn't Exactly Lying

In my opinion, the best part of the two episodes from last night was watching MJ watch Gary Payton talk about their 1996 Finals matchup. Just an incredible moment in TV history. Jordan was utterly digusted to the point of laughter that The Glove would suggest his physical play took a toll on him. The way he reacted you got the sense that this was in no way true and that Payton must be living in some sort of fake reality.

I mean, when you go back and actually look at the production....where's Payton lying?

The Bulls averaged 102.3 PPG and were 3-0 through the first three games of that series while Payton wasn't guarding MJ. They were then 1-2 once Seattle made the switch and averaged 83.7 points. Call me crazy, but you combine that with Jordan's dip in production and it's not such a crazy statement. Certainly not so outrageous that it deserved that sort of reaction from Jordan. Remember, Payton doesn't say they would have won the Finals had they gone with that matchup the entire series, but he's not lying about how his impact made life tougher for Jordan. 

Now if we're being fair here, Jordan got that ass in Game 5 despite the loss. A cool 26 on 11-22 shooting even with Payton on him. I doubt he cares about that though since CHI lost. Game 6 though it was right back to clamps, holding MJ to just 5-19 shooting. Of course CHI won that game and the series, but there's no argument that the work Payton did on Jordan in that series was probably the best any mere mortal had ever done. 

Pound for pound he's probably the best defensive point guard of all time, and it's not exactly fair that now he's the root of the internet's newest meme. This isn't like some scrub talking about how they made life tough for Jordan and then MJ still averaged 35 or something. Gary Payton was no joke