Golden State Warriors wing Gary Payton II wrote in an article for The Players' Tribune that he didn't hold a grudge against Memphis Grizzlies guard Dillon Brooks, who was ejected in Game 2 of the teams' Western Conference semifinals matchup for a hard foul on Payton.
The Dubs' wing suffered a fractured left elbow but said Brooks sought him after the game to apologize:
"Even after the X-rays showed it was an elbow fracture, and we knew I was gonna be out, I wasn't angry about what went down. I was annoyed to miss time, especially in the playoffs, but I didn't care about the foul. I've taken worse hits. I wasn't mad or shook up about that. Also, for the record: There's no bad blood between me and Dillon. After we closed out Game 6, I got word that he wanted to talk outside the locker room, and when I got there he apologized. I give Dillon a lot of credit for that—no text, no social media, nothing indirect. He came in person, and we talked like grown men. He told me he didn't mean to hurt me. I believe him."
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was incensed after that game, saying Brooks violated a code.
"I don't know if it was intentional, but it was dirty," he told reporters. "There is a code. This code that players follow where you never put a guy's season [or] career in jeopardy by taking somebody out in midair and clubbing him across the head, ultimately fracturing Gary's elbow... He broke the code. Dillon Brooks broke the code."
Payton was deemed out for at least three weeks at the time, though the team reportedly wasn't ruling out a potential return in the NBA Finals, per Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium.
The 29-year-old averaged 7.1 points and 3.5 rebounds in 71 games for the Warriors this season, adding 6.1 points per game in the postseason. He provided the team with valuable defense on the wing, and if he's able to return for the NBA Finals—the Dubs hold a 2-0 advantage in their Western Conference Finals matchup with the Dallas Mavericks—it would be a major boost.
If he can't, however, Payton isn't holding any grudges.
"I’m not mad. I feel like maybe the whole world thought I was mad, though," he wrote. "Because once that game ended, my phone started blowing up—everyone tapping in and checking on me, making sure I wasn’t too upset or too down or whatever. And of course everyone with the Warriors, they’re all such good people and had my back, no question. I had a lot of people pissed on my behalf. And I love them for that. But I was good."