Monday, April 30

Glove(s) Off?

Former Seattle SuperSonic Gary Payton-Lego StyleIt’s all speculation right now, but some writers in the Miami area are predicting that Alonzo Mourning and, more importantly, Gary Payton could be headed for Del Boca Vista after the Heat were swept aside by the Bulls.

Well, if the Sonics are leaving town, it only makes sense for Payton to retire as well. In a perfect world, the Sonics would bring Gary back for one last season in Seattle before he calls it quits. Considering the 07-08 campaign is shaping up to be pretty dismal – what with the moving vans backed up to the Key Arena parking lot and all – would it really be that bad of an idea?

It’s possible the Sonics deal either Earl Watson or Luke Ridnour this summer. Mike Wilks was great in his short stint at the end of the year, but the Sonics could really use a guard with some decent size coming off the bench; why not Gary?

It’s a pipe dream, I know, but Payton remains the greatest player in team history (sorry, Paul, Ray Allen isn’t even close), and it would be a wonderful move for the fans to bring him back to Seattle, if, of course, he’d even want to play here.

But let’s say Gary calls it quits; what will he be remembered for? I don’t mean statistical rankings or playoff wins, I mean what will YOU remember about Payton?

Personally, the enduring images of Gary Payton are many:

-Backing down an opposing point guard the way an old man backs up his Buick – with a “I don’t give a shit what you think, I'm backing this thing up” attitude

-The gum chewing; nobody chews gum harder and with more intensity of Gary Payton

- The defensive posture; the way he cinches up his shorts before he got into position, as if to say, “Alright, motherf$)*#er, let’s go!”

- The way he backpedals down the court after sinking a 3, arms raised jauntily by his side, bent at the elbow, with the intensity of a spring training jog

- The trash talking – always the trash talking, especially when his head tilted slightly to the right as he talked, as if he was trying to get the words to move upwards

But most of all, the winning. Gary Payton – at least in Seattle – seemed to be about winning. It’s not something common to Seattle athletes; we are, after all, home to Edgar, Ray Allen, and Steve Largent. Classy men all, but you never associated in-your-face intensity and attitude to those gentleman the way you did with Gary.

Well, I could go on for paragraphs more, but let’s cut it short. Gary Payton might be retiring soon. What will you remember?

17 comments:

Supersonicsfan said...

The will to win, that's what I remember.

Like this game: Sonics at LA Lakers, Sonics down by 2, 79 to 81, 20 seconds to go, GP steals the pass, takes the ball into the half court. GP works his way around the 3 point line, Ho Grant steps out to set a high screen, I think it was Derek Fisher that went under the pick, Shaq didn't step out (he never does), GP drains a 3 for the lead. Lakers inbound the ball, bring it up court, GP steals the ball agian, cementing the win.
Martin Luther King junior's Birthday, 2000

http://www.basketball-reference.com/boxscores/LAL20000117.html

36 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 7 steals.
5 for 10 from 3 pt line
Payton for 3!!!

chunkstyle23 said...

The kung-fu layups that were his trademark--gliding between the trees with his front leg kicked out, upper torso streeeetching forward, holding the ball straight out in front like a lance, his mouth open, of course, then finishing with the scoop off glass. Sonics haven't had that kind of tenacity in a long damn time.

The perfect lob passes to Shawn.

The high top fade and number 2 jersey he wore his rookie year.

Bringing Gary back might spark some of that old time religion this city felt for the Sonics in the 90s... maybe even enough to sway some votes!

Sportszilla said...

I totally agree about the layups, especially how well he shot them with his left hand (despite being a righty).

Him and Nate trapping helpless opponent guards near half court.

"A Mouse in the House!"

Nuss said...

The traps with Nate were fantastic. When they had Nate, Gary and Kendall Gill (yes, Kendall Gill), that might have been one of the best defensive backcourts of all time. All 3 guys could cover either position, and with Kloppenburg's trapping system, they were murder on opponents. Throw in Vincent Askew, and the other teams had no hope.

Paul Merrill said...

Pete, you'll be happy to know that I no longer think Ray is the greatest Sonic of all time. That honor falls to Jerome James.

Seriously, though, Gary was the single most exciting thing that ever happened to Seattle sports (Griffey included). Two of my favorite memories: The Golden State playoff game, where Gary "stepped up like a Man!"(thanks KC), and all the times he played hurt.

I would love to see Gary and Shawn back next year. Would it really be any worse than our current end of the bench?

Anonymous said...

GP seems done as a player. I'd offer him Sonics Community Relations or TV color commentator even parttime to see if he was interested. Assistant Coach unlikely but not totally impossible with right head coach and a GP commitment to doing it right.He'll probably take time off and maybe do national halftime shows.

anonymous #12 said...

I'm too depressed about the Sonics skipping town to think back on the good times. Payton's jersey will soon be hanging in the OK City rafters. Thrilling. :(

Anonymous said...

GP & Kemp made me a basketball fan. I'd pay to see them back home again - either one, or both.

Paul Merrill said...

Other favortie Gary memory--the fight with Vernon Maxwell. Didn't somebody throw a dumbell in the weight room?

anonymous #12 said...

Yep, Horace Grant & Chuck Person suffered injuries as a result.
There's also the wonderful memories of Payton yelling at Westphal, Payton yelling at Nate, Payton pissing off George, Payton pissing off Kendall Gill, Payton pissing off Detlef, Payton freezing out and getting into a fight with Ricky Pierce in the Nuggets series, Payton's wonderful tolerance for helping rookies develop, Payton chucking threes with 18 on the shot clock, Payton making demands through the Goodwins then denying he had anything to do with it.

Wait, this was supposed to be a tribute thread... sorry, still not in the mood I guess.

"Whatever happens is gonna happen".

Anonymous said...

How about those huge shots in the Finals last year? Gary played a big part in bringing the championship to Miami and he deserved a ring like few others! Thanks for everything GP!

Anonymous said...

"GP CAN YOU HEAR ME!" IS STILL ONE OF MY FAVORITE CALLS, FROM A SERIES VS THE T-WOLVES IIRC. WITH GP, YOU ALWAYS FELT LIKE YOU WOULD WIN, EVEN WHEN YOU KNEW YOU COULDN'T.

Anonymous said...

the decade of payton-stockton duels-
oh man, it was fun.

Anonymous said...

What I can say is I live in Italy, and i started to love NBA basketball after i saw Payton dunking over MJ in the 96 finals (and his trash talk in his face after the dunk). That's the original image i will have from him. But i can remember thousands. One of my favourites was his triple-double against Utah, game 4 of the '00 playoffs. GP soaring up and scoring 3s after 3s, with Baker grabbing and hugging him, then he and Malone talking to each other, Malone gets double T, and GP stays on the floor enjoying the moment. And then, let me say it, the jumper against Dallas last season, when again everybody was saying "he is over, he can't play anymore". Do you imagine taking a shot like that, when he didn't shot at all during the game? If i'd meet Gary one day, I would hug him, my teen-age time hero, and i would tell him "thank you for the energy, the positive energy, that despite what a lot of people was saying, you gave to all the young guys watching you play". Thanks for everything GP

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