There’s four major points to know about Gary Payton’s NBA career. So, let’s take them one by one…
First, he was terrifying defender. At 6’4″, he had the size to defend either guard position. Nicknamed “The Glove”, Payton was a stellar on-ball defender and would pick your pocket in the process. He didn’t get those Allen Iverson type steals gambling on passing lanes. He’d straight up mug you for the ball. Nine straight times he was a member of the NBA’s All-Defensive 1st Team and each one was well-deserved.
It’s no accident Michael Jordan easily had his worst NBA Finals series in 1996 as he was hounded by Payton.
Second, he had a telepathic connection with Shawn Kemp. Payton’s natural passing ability and Kemp’s natural leaping ability created one of the great one-two punches in NBA history. Time and again they connected on absolutely insane alley oops.
Third, he was a talented scorer. This portion of Payton’s skills didn’t truly become revealed until the late 90s and early 2000s. For the first part of his career, Payton played on a staked Sonics team with the likes of Kemp, Ricky Pierce, Sam Perkins, Detlef Schrempf, Hersey Hawkins, and Kendall Gill. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. However, as time went on, the Sonics slowly deteriorated in overall talent and Payton resorted to more and more of his quick off-the-dribble explosions and even more annoying for defenders his sturdy post-up moves. Remember that being 6’4″ made him taller than most point guards and caused matchup havoc.
Fourth, he did vagabond for a ring. The Sonics traded Payton to the Milwaukee Bucks midway through the 2003 season. In 2004 he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in a blatant, and ultimately failed, attempt at riding coattails to a ring. In 2005 he arrived in Boston and again didn’t succeed. In 2006 he landed in Miami and finally tasted title glory. He certainly gave forth a good effort, but by that point he was nowhere near the offensive force, let alone the frightening defensive force, he once was.
So maybe he didn’t “earn” that ring that particular season, but the Glove had undoubtedly put in the dues in over a decade of All-Star and All-Defensive effort. And that’s all there is to know about Gary Payton.
Well, there’s actually five things.
Fifth, even Oscar the Grouch would be offended by the amount of trash Gary Payton talked. Watch out for the Glove’s defense and the f-bombs.
Seasons Played: 1991 – 2007
Defensive Player of the Year (1996)
2x All-NBA 1st Team (1998, 2000)
5x All-NBA 2nd Team (1995-’97, 1999, 2002), 2x All-NBA 3rd Team (1994, 2001)
9x All-Defensive 1st Team (1994 – 2002)
9x All-Star (1994-’98, 2000-’03)
All-Rookie 2nd Team (1991)
NBA – 1233 Games
16.3 PPG, 6.7 APG, 3.9 RPG, 1.8 SPG, 46.6% FG, 72.9% FT
SPG Leader (1996)
4th All-Time in Steals, 8th All-Time in Assists, 20th All-Time in FGs Made, 29th All-Time in Points
9th All-Time in Games, 9th All-Time in Minutes
21st All-Time in SPG, 32nd All-Time in APG