Gary Payton: guys like Curry, Westbrook still have to reach my level

gp-gary-payton-20Basketball Hall of Famer Gary Payton was rarely caught off guard while he was playing in the NBA. However, he did get caught off guard recently by TMZ Sports, and was asked a few questions.

When asked about the current guards playing in the league, Payton said that today it is the era of “shooting guards”.

“There are only three true point guards in the NBA now – Tony Parker, Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul,” Payton said. “The rest, like Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, are shooting guards who play at point guard spot.”

Payton noted that since he’s a Hall of Famer, the above mentioned guards, while being very good, still have to reach his level. Payton, who spent the majority of  his NBA career with Seattle Supersonics, was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013.

Speaking of bad season for such teams as NY Knicks, LA Lakers and Boston Celtics, Payton was short: “It happens. Get a better team, get a better organization.”

He further spoke about Kobe Bryant, who had one of the most disappointing seasons as of late, being sidelined by an injury.

“Kobe will come back strong and he will be good,” Payton told TMZ Sports. “They will have to get Kevin Love and hold him with Kobe for two years or so, they have to build up the team again.”

Payton and power forward Shawn Kemp led the Seattle Supersonics to the NBA Finals in 1995-96, where they fell to the Chicago Bulls, who went on to win two more championships in 1996-97 and 1997-98.

Payton stayed with the Sonics until Feb. 20, 2003, when he was traded to the Bucks and reunited with his former coach George Karl. During his 17-year NBA career, Payton established himself as one of the best defensive point guards of all-time.

He played 1335 games in the NBA (1233 started), averaging 16.3 points and 6.7 assists over the course of his career. He averaged over 20 points in seven of his 17 seasons, with his career-high average of 24.2 points coming in the 1999-2000 season.

The point guard reached three NBA Finals, appearing in one each for the Sonics, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. Payton finally got that elusive first ring as a member of the 2005-06 Heat.


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