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Gary Payton: 'Basically Everything' Is Wrong with Today's NBA

SPRINGFIELD, MA - SEPTEMBER 7: Inductee Gary Payton speaks to the media during the Class of 2013 Press Event as part of the 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on September 7, 2013 at the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images
Dan FavaleFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2014

Gary Payton is a lot of things, but "subtle" isn't one of them.

The Hall of Fame point guard remains one of the best floor generals in NBA history. During his heyday, he was a treat to watch on the hardwood, prone to frustrating opponents with his defense and waging incisive dribble drives on offense.

The Glove was also known for his patterned candor, never shy and always forthright and plainspoken.

Nothing has changed.

While visiting his alma mater, Oregon State, for "Gary Payton Night," Payton's honest, sometimes strident demeanor was in full force. When asked about today's NBA in a video spotted by NBA.com's Sekou Smith, Payton wasted little time in offering his uncensored critique:

"What is it about the NBA right now that maybe bothers you," one reporter inquired after Payton explained why he didn't want to coach.

"Basically everything," Payton replied, almost immediately. "It's no defense; it's just run and gun."

Frank Vogel's Indiana Pacers, who are on pace to have one of the greatest defenses ever, take offense. So, too, does Tom Thibodeau's Chicago Bulls. Maybe.

Everyone else? Well, they're kind of nodding their heads in agreement. 

Defense isn't what it once was in the NBA. Contests used to be slugfests. Players were defensive enforcers, grinding their way to victory, slowing offenses down to idling paces.

Now, more so than ever, scorers are cherished. High-powered offenses are revered. Impregnable defenses border on obsolete. Mike D'Antoni has a job.

But it's not declining commitments to defense alone that have Payton all aflutter. Point guard play is an issue, too.

Parker and Paul are two of three point guards that impress Payton.
Parker and Paul are two of three point guards that impress Payton.D. Clarke Evans/Getty Images

"To me, it's only three point guards in the NBA that impresses me," he said. "I got Chris Paul, [Rajon] Rondo and another kid that I like a lot, and I forgot his name right now. It's only really three—oh, and Tony Parker."

Parker's a 31-year-old kid? Got it.

If you recall, this isn't the first time Payton paid homage to only three point men. Leading up to his Hall of Fame nuptials in September, Payton said much of the same.

"We don’t really have point guards in the NBA now," he explained, per Tom King of The Republican. "We really have (shooting) guards—and that’s a fact. I think there’s only three true point guards that play like point guards. I think Chris Paul is one, I think (Rajon) Rondo is one, and I think Tony Parker is the other."

At least he's consistent.

Now, if you'll please excuse Mr. Payton, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, Damian Lillard and Derrick Rose have formed an angry picket line outside his house that he really must address.

 

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