Bits on Gary Payton and John Stockton
Tomorrow, John Stockton (and George Gervin) will induct Gary Payton into the Naismith Hall of Fame.
You’ve no doubt read these quotes from Payton already on every other Jazz site out there, but here they are again with some extras:
On why he picked John Stockton to induct him:
John Stockton is because I liked him when I was playing basketball. Everyone said he was dirty. He wasn’t as athletic as us. But he was smarter than us.
We knew what he was going to do. We knew he was going to set [tough] picks. We had all the videos on Utah. We were so dumb. We would get caught up with the picks and get mad at him.
He would shoot eight times and make nine. Shoot eight free throws and make seven. He’d have 15 assists and four steals. A complete game. That’s just the way he was and I idolized him. I just imitated him while going about my business, talking trash and getting it done. After the game you would look at my stats and it would be right there.
On whether John Stockton ever talked trash back to him:
Never. That is the reason I really respected him because you never could get in his head. He’s the hardest person I ever had to guard.
I tried to talk to him, try to do something and he’d just look at me, set a pick and cause me [to get mad and] get a tech. And then all of the sudden it was over. There was much respect to him doing that to me. It taught me a lot.
On who was harder to guard, John Stockton or Michael Jordan:
Those battles were a little easier. I would have Jordan get mad at me and go back at me. He knew he was really talented and could do whatever he wanted to. But [Stockton] was more of a challenge to me than guarding someone that would talk back to me.
When you talk back to me and say something to me it made my game go to another level. John was one who wouldn’t say nothing and you couldn’t figure him out. He’d keep going in the pick and rolls and he and Karl Malone would score a big bucket. At times I would guard Jordan and get him mad and into other things. (Yahoo! Sports)
After this piece came out on Yahoo!, Payton defended his comments on Fox Sports:
Here’s an account from Earl Watson, who witnessed Payton’s respect for Stockton firsthand:
Gary Payton never gives anyone any compliments, never. No one’s never better than him and everyone he can beat in one-on-one and they can’t score on him. So we were about to play Utah here in Utah [during Earl’s rookie year] and shootaround was over…
He was basically telling me that I was lucky to have a chance to play against [John Stockton] and I could see that that was Gary’s way of giving respect, but it was almost to the point where I was like, is Gary afraid of him? …
He respected [Stockton] to the fullest, and [Stockton] was the only guy he ever gave credit to the whole time I was with him.
Finally, Payton talked with NBA TV about Stockton. The video (as with all nba.com videos, unembeddable @_@) includes comments from Stockton on Payton that appear to be pretty recent (Stockton has gray sideburns). Stockton and Payton played together on the 1996 Olympic team.