Gary Payton believed John Stockton was the toughest player for him to guard, and that includes defending Michael Jordan.
When asked about defending Jordan, Payton said: "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."
Payton feels he was better than Stockton, but he concedes that the former Utah Jazz guard had a remarkable basketball IQ.
"I really think I was better as an athlete and in everything all-around," Payton said. "But he was just a smarter basketball player than us. He just got it done. I do think I was a better basketball player. I can do more things skills-wise. He just showed he knew how to play the game and that was the biggest difference."