On this week’s edition of “BetUS Unfiltered,” Gary Payton and Warren Sapp each sat down for an extended chat with host Dawn Lupul, who led off with a bang, asking Payton about his recent comments comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan.
During an appearance on the “Scoop B Radio Overtime” podcast, Payton called James a “better all-around player than Jordan.”
On Unfiltered, he took the opportunity to expand.
“People criticize LeBron because, at the end of the games, he doesn’t take shots, he goes to his teammates and they don’t win games, whatever, whatever,” Payton said. “Michael Jordan wants to do everything. He’s a killer, he wants to make all the baskets, he wants to do all the things he has to do for his team.
“In my opinion, yes, LeBron is the better overall basketball player,” Payton added. “As for a dog, or a person who’s a killer, Michael Jordan is better,” Payton later added. “It’s a difference.”
Payton Talks Hoops
Lupul and Payton continued breaking down top NBA headlines, including Kevin Durant’s apparent slight of Russell Westbrook during an appearance on the “MILLION $ WORTH OF GAME” podcast. When asked to name the top five teammates he ever played with, Durant initially left Westbrook off his list before adding him after being called out by the host.
“He knows who he played with,” Payton said. “He played with a lot of good basketball players, and you forget some of them. You can’t put them all on there. That’s why I tell people, stop saying ‘Top 3’ or ‘Top 5’ or whatever. Just say, ‘Who were the best players you played with’ and name who you can name.”
Payton turned his attention to his son’s team, the Golden State Warriors, who remain in the running for a playoff spot in the Western Conference thanks to a recent run of success, led by guard Stephen Curry.
“They’re getting hot at the right time, and Steph Curry is having an amazing, amazing month or two,” Payton said when asked for his favorite in this year’s playoff play-in round, adding, “I think Golden State will be that team. And they could move up. They don’t even need to play in the play-in.”
As for his pick to win the whole thing? Payton still says he’s putting his chips on the Lakers, who currently sit fifth in the Western Conference with James and Anthony Davis sidelined since March 20 and Feb. 14, respectively. Davis returned Thursday and James is back before the end of the regular season.
“They’re going to adjust and they’re going to have big games, and they’re going to beat you,” Payton said. “You don’t want to see a team and a player who … knows he can do it and face them in the first round.”
Sapp’s Draft Breakdown
After Sapp joined the show, the topic turned to the NFL Draft, starting with a walk down memory lane, as Sapp relived his draft night with Lupul.
The Buccaneers traded the seven pick to the Philadelphia Eagles and wound in the 12 slot. They took Sapp out of Miami, then added another Hall of Famer, Derrick Brooks, later in the first round at 28 Sapp easily rattled off the 11 players taken ahead of him and discussed the motivation it provided as he adjusted to the pros.
Said Sapp: “I looked at the 11 guys that went before me in the ‘95 draft and said, ‘Not one of them will beat me to the Hall, not one of them will be considered better than me. So I’ll have to work harder.’”
After settling in Tampa, Sapp said he and Brooks got right to the task at hand.
“I was at a place that had 11 straight double-digit loss seasons when I got there,” Sapp said when asked if there was any disagreement between incoming stars and veteran players. “We had some work to do and fighting each other wasn’t going to help us. Me, Brooks, (John) Lynch, we found a couple of other brothers. Then (Tony) Dungy came in and built a structure and gave us purpose, and off we went.”
Later, when asked about the best approach to drafting — best player on the board versus best player at your position of need — Sapp remained noncommittal but shared a telling anecdote from his era on the field.
“It all depends on your football team and who is picking the groceries,” Sapp said. “That’s the biggest thing Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones fell out about. And Bill Parcells said this, famously — if they’re going to ask me to make the dinner they might as well let me pick the damn groceries. There’s no other way to make a meal.”
As for the groceries Sapp’s not picking? The big man reported back on some offseason work with Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore and said he’s not ready to buy just yet.
“It was the inability to replicate what we were trying to do. And maybe it was too advanced of a class for a young man like that. Because if I’m looking at him, as big as he is, I’m going to put him at a five-technique in a 3-4 system. I’m not going to put him under tackle and ask him to go rush and hit it and get it up the field. That’s not him.
“He has strengths in other people’s systems, but what people were asking me to do — he’s got no hit-and-git,” Sapp continued. “His get up and go got up and went.”
Perhaps that type of analysis will serve as motivation for Barmore, a projected first- or second-day pick. Because, Sapp says, the big fellas in the pros will be ready when he comes out to play.
“I always had one thing in my mind and I try to echo this to the young players,” Sapp said. “Don’t go to Disney World and not expect Mickey Mouse to come out. Play to a level. Everybody was great — it didn’t matter to me. It was Larry Allen, it was Randall McDaniel. Those were the two people I always envisioned you were, and if you couldn’t play to that level, I’m sorry, I had too high of expectations of you that Sunday.”