Gary “The Glove” Payton was one of the best defenders (and trash talkers) ever to step on an NBA court. He was named to the NBA All-Defense team an impressive nine straight years, he won one Defensive Player of the year award, and he will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame this September.
Remarkably, his illustrious career almost ended after one season.
Payton discussed his disappointing rookie year with Scott Howard-Cooper over at NBA.com. Payton revealed that despite being named second-team All-Rookie in the 1990-91 season, he was so frustrated over his lack of playing time and support that he almost walked away from the SuperSonics.
In Payton’s own words:
I went to my agent, I went to my father, I just said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m good enough to play in this league. I’ve got a coach who wants to play me in the first and the third quarter. He has no confidence in me.’ They told me the same thing. ‘You’ve got to stick it out. You’ve got to be the guy who you’re supposed to be. You’re tough. You’re this.’ My father was like, ‘Are you crazy? If you quit, I’m gonna get in your (body).’
Thankfully Payton stuck it out and decided to come back. (Unfortunately for him, his alma mater just put out this atrocious music video. Hey, Payton, do ya think you could pull some strings at OSU and get every single person responsible for that crime against music expelled?)