gary payton vs. michael jordan in 1996

i watched game 5 from the 1996 nba finals again: the seattle supersonics against the 72-10 chicago bulls. the sonics won 64 games that season and were not slouch team; they split their two head to head games that year. in fact, i think they were the best seattle has ever had– even better than the championship team of 1979.

game five was the first game that coach george karl assigned gary payton to guard jordan. in 1996, GP was the defensive player of the year for the league. jordan was the best offensive player that year. it was a matchup that hardcore nba fans wanted to see.

what was the result? GP frustrated jordan, the sonics win games 5 and 6 to make the series 3-2 for the bulls. games 6 (and 7) in chicago. the sonics found their confidence anew. shawn kemp had a great series too!

i have seen this game 5 a number of times over the years. i can’t help but think “what if”

what if Karl put GP on MJ from the start? i doubt that we would have gone down 3-0. it would have been a totally different series.


why do i do this to myself? i LOVE the sonics that’s why! and the jordan worship by madison avenue and the nation irked me.

it killed me when they were stolen from us to move to oklahoma city. but that is a different post for a different time

“what if” scenarios are always a trap in sports and in life. but i will always wonder about the greatest sonic ever– GP– at his peak in 1996 against prime jordan. nba history would have been very different…

let me go back to watching nba reruns as we get through this coronavirus crisis…


  1. I knew it was just a matter of time before we are reading about the Seattle Supersonics!! Yay!!


    1. frarthurcmf says:

      LOL, i think there should be a supersonic blogsite!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know the purrfect write for said supersonic blog!!

        Liked by 1 person

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