Gary Payton was one of the most prolific players to ever put on an NBA jersey. There were a lot of fans who loved his game and the way he carried himself on the basketball court, and there were many fans who couldn’t stand his arrogance and tenacious defense. Now a Hall of Famer, there is one thing we do know, and it’s that Payton left it all on the floor and was respected by all of his fellow peers in the league. Let’s take a look into what made Gary “The Glove” Payton create the legacy that he has left behind for today.
Payton had a personality that many players were not fond of. He was known as one of the biggest and best trash talkers the NBA had ever seen. He had one of the longest tenured careers (17 years) which caused all the trash talking to add up and make him third all-time in technical fouls. The trash talking seemed to work for Payton as it made the players that were opposing him lose focus and created a chance for Payton to shine. Payton was a mentor in the later seasons of his career while the trash talking went on. He instilled the mental toughness that he carried throughout his career into the younger players that he played with.
Come on, you don’t remember Payton having the lock logo next to his name in NBA Live back in the day? All jokes aside, Payton was, hands down, the best defensive point guard of his era. He and Michael Jordan are the only two guards to have won the Defensive Player of the Year since 1988. In the 1996 NBA Finals, Payton held Jordan to his second lowest scoring performance of all-time in the finals in Game 4. “The Glove” was a nickname that stuck with Payton throughout his career because of his ability to steal the basketball. He is third all-time in steals and shares the record for the most All-NBA First Team selections with nine. That is an insane number. Payton was tall for a point guard at his time at 6-foot-4 so it made him a better asset because he had the ability to guard some of the best players, even if it wasn’t a point guard. Being a great rebounder as well made Payton so valuable as a player and was a point guard that is very hard to find in todays game.
Overall, Payton left behind a legacy of durability and a player that showed his best effort in every play that he made. Many players of today try to emulate the game that Payton had and have had little success doing so. The league is turning into such a three-point dominant league, and it makes me wonder if Payton would be able shut down the likes of a Steph Curry or any three-point shooting guard of today.