Gary Payton: playing with Shawn Kemp was on a different level


gary-paytonFor those who are not aware – Gary Payton, the legendary Seattle Supersonics guard will be inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame on September 8.

Payton enjoyed a successful 17-year NBA career, and he’s best known for his 13-year tenure in Seattle, where he established himself as one of the best defensive point guards of all-time.

Payton 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.

Payton is currently a basketball analyst on Fox Sports 1, and he has recently talked with NBA TV, answering a bunch of questions, regarding his career and other issues.

Payton used to cry a lot because of his dad

Before the talk, Payton spoke about his father, and how that influenced his basketball game.

“My dad was used to be called Mr. Mean, and he wouldn’t take no mess, at all. I used to see my father all the time, he never smiled, he was always mean, even when he coached me,” Payton said.

“If i had 40 points, he would say that’s no good, you could do this better or do that better, or make this guy better. It used to hurt my feelings, I used to cry a lot, but now when i think about it …when i got into the NBA, i got that from him,” he said.

Payton’s overlooked offensive skills

When asked if he’s bothered by the fact that people mostly remember him for his defense, Payton, nicknamed “The Glove” during his NBA days, said he wasn’t bothered.

“It is overlooked, because (I mostly worked) on defensive end, but its ok. I got 21,000 points, so it’s nothing. It doesn’t bother me,” Payton said.

Never thought about being in the Hall of Fame

Dennis Scott, who got drafted the same year as Payton, now working for NBA TV, asked Payton about his thoughts on when he first came into the league.

“You know, when we both got drafted, we probably were just two kids happy that we got into the NBA. And all of a sudden, we have careers like we have, and I didn’t expect that,” Payton said.

“I just expected to be in the NBA, to be a guy who is trying to make a mark on the NBA and do it with my talking and my defense, that was all i thought about. I never thought I’d be at this point right now,” he said.

kemp_paytonPayton explains why today’s NBA is different from his era

Another question that Dennis Scott asked Payton was about the younger players that come into the NBA, in particular what would Payton advise them to do.

The first thing Payton said is that “these kids have to listen”.

“A lot of them don’t listen, and its because they’re all young. They get drafted at age 22 or 21,” he said. “You don’t have veterans like we did when we got drafted.”

“When we got drafted we got 7-8 veterans on our team, who were already in the league for 7-8 years, and we would be the rookies there and get taught that way. But it is a little different now in this era, because they already are superstars when they come into the NBA, and they are those whom others on the team look up to,” he explained.

“One thing I would say is to work on your game. You have to work on your game every day, always be consistent and don’t think you’re too good,” he said.

Playing with the “Reignman”…

Payton probably wouldn’t have been himself today, if it wasn’t for another player, who once was one of the most explosive players in the NBA – Seattle Supersonics’ power forward Shawn Kemp.

When asked about what it was like playing with Kemp, Payton said it straight.

“People call Chris Paul and Blake Griffin the “Lob City”…i think we were the original “Lob City”. I don’t take away from them, they’re great players and great athletes, but playing with Shawn Kemp was on a different level,” he said.

“(Kemp) had a jump shot, he had a post-up, he had a hook, he could block a shot, he had mid-range…but what was so good about him was that he could shoot freethrows,” Payton said.

“When he got on the line – it was money, so playing with him, through my career, to where it is right now, i think that if we would’ve stayed together, he would be in the same category as me right now, because we made each other better,” he concluded.

It should be noted that Kemp and Payton 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.

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