Lakers News: Barack Obama Thinks Gary Payton Made Michael Jordan Play More Like Kobe Bryant In 1996 NBA Finals
Lakers News: Barack Obama Says Gary Payton Made Michael Jordan More Like Kobe Bryant In 1996 Nba Finals
Peter Casey-USA TODAY Sports

Game 2 of the 2019 NBA Finals was a huge matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Toronto Raptors as all eyes were focused on whether the former would be able to even the series — including former President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Obama is a well-known basketball fan so to see him in Toronto with NBA commissioner Adam Silver made the game feel even bigger.

In fact, it was the first NBA Finals game Obama attended in over 20 years as he saw Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls face Gary Payton and the Seattle SuperSonics.

That Finals was famous for being Jordan’s first championship since returning from retirement. Obama also remembered Payton giving Jordan issues on the defensive end and may have taken a little shot at Kobe Bryant in describing Jordan’s performance, via USA Today:

Obviously, the knock on Bryant has always been his lack of efficiency. There is arguably no better player at making difficult shots than Bryant, but that also led to some rough shooting nights and lower percentages, which is what Obama is alluding to.

Jordan shot 49.7% from the field for his career in the regular season and 48.7% in the playoffs compared to Bryant’s 44.7% and 44.8%, respectively. But with Payton, the 1996 Defensive Player of the Year that hounding him in the Finals, Jordan shot just 41.5% — never shooting better than 50% in any game and shooting below 33.3% twice.

It is by far Jordan’s worst NBA Finals performance but it is forgotten for the most part due to the Bulls winning and the emotional scene afterwards. Lakers fans might compare it to Bryant’s final championship.

The Boston Celtics held Bryant to 40.5% shooting in the tough seven-game series including an awful 6-24 night in the deciding Game 7, but Bryant and the Lakers fought through to come out on top in the end.

One of the go-to arguments in the ongoing debate of Bryant vs. Jordan (and LeBron James) is that the former was the least efficient player. Obama and his Chicago bias may have come out just a bit in his description of Jordan’s performance calling him ‘Kobe-esque,’ so it is clear how he ranks the two all-time legends.