Hall of Famer Gary Payton was best known for his defense and locking down his opponents, while beating you mutually by talking your ear off during games. Arguably, on the top five trash talking list with peers such as Reggie Miller, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Allen Iverson, Charles Barkley, and Kevin Garnett. Opposing coaches made it apparent to tell their players to avoid responding to Gary Payton because they did not need him more motivated that particular night against them.
Grant Hill shared a story on Open Court about how early in his career, he had to play a point forward role and bring up the basketball because the point guard on his team did not want to bring up the floor against Gary Payton. Damon Stoudamire did an interview with The Player’s Tribune a couple of years back and talked about Payton’s trash talking sent players to therapy
He’ll go at anyone. He’ll go at Scottie Pippen. One time you’ll be playing Gary in Portland, and he’ll be in Pippen’s ear.
“You ain’t nothin’ anymore, Scottie. Where’s Mike? Where’s Mike at? I ain’t scared of you now, Scottie.”
Mind you, Scottie will have six NBA titles at this point. Gary will have none. And he won’t care.
“Hey, Scottie! You know what, man? You ain’t top 50 of all time. You want me to show you my list? I had you at 51, Scottie. I had you at 51. I had Dominique ahead of you. You’re 51, Scottie.”
This is the level of trash talk you’re up against now. Don’t even open your mouth. If Gary’s going to do Scottie, like that, he’ll send you to therapy, said Stoudamire.
Recently Payton’s former Sonics teammate Sam Perkins was a guest on the “Scoop B and Reg” Podcast:
“Gary is a funny guy because he talks trash, but he makes up words as he talks trash,” Perkins says, as he segues into an anecdote about Payton’s trash-talking and what makes him a bigger trash-talker than NBA icon Michael Jordan.
“They fixed up the locker room and brought speakers in and stereo. They made up all the couches. And he comes in there and I guess he meant to say ‘surround sound’ but he called it ‘surround round.’
“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, so he gets mad. He makes up vocabulary. He talks trash and I could not understand what he was 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 would say out loud. But Gary was different.”
Former Sacramento Kings’ guard Bobby Jackson was someone that had the opportunity to play against Payton in the early 2000s, which mean he had to endure the trash talking, but Jackon said he wasn’t intimidated by it.
“His trash talking didn’t affect me because I was a trash talker too. I didn’t mind playing against guys like that because it brought the best out of me. I grew up in the project I was accustomed to talking trash and fighting that was my thing. He [Gary Payton] was one of the guys that really set the tone and path in trash talking. You did not want to piss him off and on his bad side and for me it was an honor to be on the same floor with him, but also compete against the guy every single night of that caliber,“ said Jackson.