Come to think of it… with the Seattle Sonics being wiped off the map, where will former All-Star Gary Payton get his jersey retired?
I guess you guys are aware of it: when a great player puts an end to his career, getting his jersey retired in the arena where he performed well is a commonplace tradition in the NBA. You’ve probably already seen plenty of ’em… Y’know these are the jerseys you see hanging from the rafters in NBA arenas. It’s a nice way to pay tribute to the players, and to keep them in memory forever.
Concerning Payton, the logic would be to retire his jersey in Seattle, where he pulled off most of his feats. But there’s gonna be some sort of a “technical problem” about it, a big issue… given that from now there won’t be any basketball games in Seattle any more! Talk about a dilemma…
Just for the record, I’ve always despised this player. His me-first attitude often got on my nerves. He was cheeky on the court, a real asshole and most often he gave me the impression that he didn’t respect his opponents. It was a well-known fact that Payton was always using the infamous “trash-talking” on the court. You know, when you spend your time insulting your direct opponent, and bitchin’ about almost referee’s call. Trash talkers say it keeps them motivated, and the aim is nothing less to break down mentally their adversaries. Well, that’s not the way I envision sport, but it’s an usual practice in the league. Over the years this bad habit tends to disappear, though.
But of course, Payton wasn’t just this trash-talker that bugged me. More than anything else, he was a tremendous basketball player. I mean he really was. And I gotta give the guy a lotta credit for that. A great deal of folks were just stunned by his skills, including me. Basically, his stats with the Sonics were about 23 ppg and 8 apg.
He made several All-Star appearances, and along with his buddy Shawn Kemp even led the Seattle Sonics to the NBA Finals in ’96, against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. The team of the 90’s proved to be way too strong for the young Sonics, but after that Seattle and Payton got the overdue respect they deserved in the L.
Like most NBA superstars, he even got a nickname, his being “The Glove”, stemming from his stifling defense, and his knack to steal the ball. Yeah, ’cause Payton didn’t settle for being an outstanding offensive player, he also was a real leech defensively. Moreover, he never forgot to involve his teammates on offense, with many assists per game, and with him on the court, his teammates kept getting better and better. A complete game! Making your teammates better is what makes the difference between a good player and a tremendous player.
Anyway, it’s hard to believe that Payton’s jersey will be retired in Oklahoma City. It wouldn’t make any sense. I mean he never played over there, and besides fans have never seen him playing… except on TV.
In Miami? Well, I can’t overlook the fact he won his single NBA title in Florida, but truthfully he was already done at the time. When he signed with the Heat, it was the beginning of the end for him. He wasn’t the Gary Payton we used to appreciate in Seatlle.
Sometimes, you even felt sorry for the guy, besides his stats were downright ludicrous: only 5.8 ppg, 1.6 apg with still an important playing time, about 24 minutes per game. In his second season with Miami, he only played 2 games, plagued by injuries. After his stint in Miami he wisely decided to throw in the towel, well aware that his old legs couldn’t take it anymore.
Nah, the highlights of his career were definitely in Seattle, no doubt about it.
So once again, where his jersey should be retired? Well, maybe you got a solution, as for me I just can’t figure out an answer to it. It’s such an uncommon situation, probably unheard of!