SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Gary Payton is one of a dozen people being enshrined as part of the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend in Springfield, Mass. Leading up to this weekend, the Glove has made several noteworthy comments, which continued during Saturday’s press conference.
Earlier this week, Payton said that John Stockton was harder to guard than Michael Jordan, though, it wasn’t as outlandish of a statement when you hear Payton’s full explanation. However, on Saturday afternoon, Payton wasn’t asked about specific players, rather eras, and when it came down to points in the ‘90s as opposed to today’s lead guards, it wasn’t shocking who the new Hall of Famer chose.
“I like my era better,” Payton told reporters.
“Every time I went against a point guard, we just played tough,” Payton continued. “You had the Tim Hardaways, the Kevin Johnsons; a lot of them guys. I always thought about. I always liked my era because we can hand check, we can do a lot of stuff; we can control our teams. We didn’t have to score 25-26. We could get 17, 10 dimes and three or four steals.”
Payton cited the younger generation, the NBA lockout in 1999, rule changes and even the rise of the And 1 Mixtape Tour as contributing factors to how the point guard position and style of play has changed from his own era.
“It’s the way our kids are brought up,” Payton said. “You guys have to understand, basketball has changed.
“They had to build it up after the first strike. Basketball was down a little bit. David Stern did a great job of bringing basketball back because he knew kids wanted to see run-and-gun. They didn’t want to see defense like the Knicks were doing. Slowing the ball down, setting up defenses and stuff like that and running plays. Kids weren’t doing that in the playgrounds. So we sped the game up, and that’s what the kids liked. They liked to see dunking, they like to see running, they liked to see scoring and that’s just the way it went.”
The discussion of a fast-paced, dunk-filled style of play transitioned Payton into mentioning his playing days with Shawn Kemp in Seattle. Their alley-oops connection lives on in YouTube glory, which gave him the opportunity to remind the basketball world that there was an alley-oop combo before Chris Paul and Blake Griffin joined forces in Los Angeles.
“When people say Lob City or stuff like that, we were the original Lob City,” Payton said. “We don’t want to call it Lob City, we just called it Reign Man and the Glove.”
Although the game is different from Payton’s days in Seattle, that hasn’t stopped him from trying to revive his era in the new breed of floor generals, as he has been reportedly working out this summer with point guards such as John Wall and Damian Lillard.
The style of play Payton loved so much may be gone, but his accomplishments will forever hang with the rest of basketball’s greats following this weekend. The Glove completes his Hall of Fame enshrinement when he is presented as a new member by John Stockton and George Gervin at Springfield’s Symphony Hall on Sunday afternoon.