Bulls

Gary Payton asked Michael Jordan for his shoes in the 1996 NBA Finals

Bulls

It’s gotta be the shoes. Just ask Gary Payton.

According to former NBC sideline reporter —and confidant to His Airness— Ahmad Rashad, Gary Payton asked for Michael Jordan’s shoes after Game 1 of the 1996 NBA Finals.

Let’s just say that Payton, NBA's 1995-96 Defensive Player of the Year, could have used a boost on offense in Game 1. His numbers that night: 6-17 shooting (35.3 percent), 0-3 from behind the arc and a woeful 1-4 from the charity stripe.

Sure, Payton ended up with a double-double in that series opener (13 points, 10 boards), but it was all for naught as the Bulls pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 107-90 win over Payton’s Seattle SuperSonics.

Did it really happen as Rashad claims? There is no confirmation from either party.

It really didn’t matter what shoes Payton wore the next few games. The Bulls bolted out to a 3-0 series lead with relative ease.

In Game 4, the first game of the series where Payton guarded Jordan, the other shoe dropped…so to speak. Payton tallied 21 points, 11 assists and a pair of steals in a convincing Seattle win. The Sonics also won Game 5 before the Bulls closed out the series in Chicago.

Jordan laughed off Payton’s success in those two games in Episode 8 of “The Last Dance” before Sunday night before making one more emphatic statement.

"I had no problem with Gary Payton," Jordan said.

It would have been fitting, after the series, if Michael Jordan asked for Payton’s…glove.

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