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NAPA, Calif. – Hall of Famer Gary Payton may have been the greatest trash talker in NBA history. Now nine years removed from his playing career, Payton showed his mouth is still working as much as ever when he went back and forth with the nation's No.1 high school player, Josh Jackson, while sitting courtside.
"He didn't do his homework," Payton told Yahoo Sports. "That's it. He's a kid and he's having fun. I respect him because he has a lot of dog in him to come back and talk. He has a lot of gall to do that, so that's good.
"But in these situations, you got to understand if you're going to talk it, you got to back it up. Back it up!"
Payton might have been the only NBA player who enjoyed and succeeded in trash-talking with Michael Jordan. Payton once told then-Minnesota Timberwolves coach Sidney Lowe to, "Sit down, Smurf." The Glove also once told a heckler during a road game in Sacramento: "You're paying to see me. I'm not paying to see you. So why don't you shut up and watch the game."
No one, however, was expecting Payton to trash-talk when he sat courtside to watch his son, Julian, play for Phoenix Hillcrest Academy against Napa Prolific Prep on Saturday night. Jackson, 18, is a senior guard for Prolific Prep and is ranked as the No. 1 high school basketball player in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com. The trash-talking started when Jackson gave Payton a stare and screamed in excitement after he hit a 3-pointer near him in the second half of the close game.
"You better tell them [Hillcrest] to stop talking to me," Jackson told Payton.
Payton wasn't shy in telling Jackson he couldn't shoot, among other things.
"You got to get to my level," Payton told Jackson loud enough for the packed crowd at Napa Valley College to hear.
Prolific Prep needed a late rally to outlast Hillcrest 77-72 for the victory. Late in the game, the 6-foot-8 Jackson empathically blocked a layup attempt from Julian Payton out of bounds. Afterward, Jackson turned and stared at Julian's father. Gary Payton clapped, laughed loudly and said, "That's funny!"
"It was real fun. I'm a trash-talker. He's a trash-talker. We kind of went at it a little bit, but it was all respect," Jackson told Yahoo Sports.
Jackson said he was familiar with Payton's stellar NBA career and trash-talking skills. Jackson also said the funniest thing that Payton did was stare him down after Hillcrest center DeAndre Ayton dunked hard.
"The Glove was a real good ball-player," Jackson told Yahoo Sports. "Like myself, he hated to lose and would get on his teammates in a heartbeat. I feel like I have a little bit of that in me. For me, playing how I was, it was only right that we bumped heads."
Jackson finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and three blocks. Payton thought their trash-talking battle kept Jackson from playing at a higher level in the second half.
When asked about Jackson, Payton told Yahoo Sports, "Who? Number 11? He cool, man. He has a lot of dog in him. He has to work on his right hand. Kids nowadays in that situation are not coached how they should be coached to learn the game. When he got into it with me, his whole game went to [expletive] to me.
"He didn't score. He didn't do anything. He got to concentrate. That's what kids got to understand, you're not there yet. What makes a game is defined by what you do. Then you're paying attention to me? Most kids can't play that way."
Jackson has narrowed his college choices to Michigan State, Arizona, Kansas, UCLA and Maryland. The McDonald's All-America selection told Yahoo Sports he plans to make a decision in late March. Payton did offer some positive words about Jackson.
"He's a good talent and he's going to be a great basketball player," Payton said.
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