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Gary Dwayne Payton (born July 23, 1968 in Oakland, California) is an American professional basketball player currently with the Miami Heat of the National Basketball Association. He is best known for his 12 year career with the Seattle SuperSonics.
Payton has played point guard for most of his career. He is nicknamed "The Glove" in recognition of his tenacious defense. As the story goes, Payton's cousin called him during the 1993 Western Conference Finals series against Phoenix and told him, "you're holding Kevin Johnson like a baseball in a glove," and the nickname was born.
Payton played high school basketball at Skyline High School in Oakland, California, along with former NBA player Greg Foster, before attending Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon. Throughout his four-year career at OSU, he became one of the most decorated basketball players in OSU history. During his senior year, Payton was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine as the nation's best player in 1990. He was a consensus All-American in 1990; three-time All-Pac-10 selection, and named the Pac-10 conference's 1987 Freshman of the Year. He was the MVP of the Far West Classic tournament three times and was the Pac-10 Player of the Week nine times. He also was named to the Pac-10's All-Decade Team. At the time of his graduation, he held the school record for points, field goals, three-point field goals, assists, and steals - the only record which he still holds today. During his career at OSU, the Beavers made three NCAA Tournament appearances and one NIT appearance. He was elected into OSU's Sports Hall of Fame in 1996.
Payton was the second overall pick in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics. Payton spent his first 12½ seasons with the Sonics, during which time he proved himself to be one of the league's top point guards. He was selected All-NBA First-Team in 1998 and 2000, All-NBA Second Team in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, and 2002, and All-NBA Third Team in 1994 and 2001. He was selected to the NBA All-Defensive First Team nine consecutive seasons (1994–2002), and won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1996. He has been selected to the NBA All-Star Team nine times and was voted as a starter in 1997 and 1998. He was a member of the gold medal-winning 1996 and 2000 U.S. Men's Olympic Basketball Teams. In 1996, Payton and the SuperSonics, under coach George Karl, reached the NBA Finals and lost in six games to Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. In the middle of the 2002-2003 season at the trade deadline, Payton was sent to the Milwaukee Bucks in a five-player deal that sent Ray Allen to Seattle. Payton played the remaining 28 games with the Bucks. As an unrestricted free agent prior to the 2003-2004 season, Payton, along with Karl Malone, signed with the Los Angeles Lakers to make a run at the NBA Championship with Shaquille O'Neal. According to his agent, he turned down a $35 Million dollar contract with the Portland Trailblazers to sign with the Lakers for the mid-level exception. Despite injuries to Malone, O'Neal, and Kobe Bryant during the regular season, the Lakers won 56 games and the Pacific Division. The Lakers then beat Houston, San Antonio, and Minnesota on the way to the Finals, where they lost to the Detroit four games to one (4-1).
Prior to the 2004-05 season, the Lakers traded Payton and Rick Fox to the Boston Celtics for center Chris Mihm, small forward Jumaine Jones and point guard Chucky Atkins. While Payton expressed displeasure with the trade, he ultimately did report to Boston and began the 2004-05 season as the Celtics' starting point guard. On February 24, 2005 Payton was traded to the Atlanta Hawks in a deal that brought former Celtic Antoine Walker back to Boston. The Hawks then waived Payton immediately following the trade, and he returned a week later to Boston as a free agent. Payton started all 77 games he played for the Celtics and they won the Atlantic Division before losing in the first round to the Indiana Pacers.
On September 22, 2005, he signed a one-year USD $1.1 million contract with Miami, reuniting with Walker (who was acquired seven weeks earlier by the Heat), as well as former Lakers teammate, Shaquille O'Neal. Payton finally won his first NBA Championship in his sixteenth season in the league when, on June 20, 2006, the Heat defeated the Dallas Mavericks in game 6 of the NBA Finals for a 4 to 2 series victory. Payton hit a game-winning shot in game three of that series.
Payton has been one of the most talked-about players in the league throughout much of his career. His reputation has been one of constant speculation, controversy and interest, and many (often contradictory) opinions have been formed about the player over the years.
Payton is well-known for his trash-talk, being known as one of the greatest trash-talkers in NBA history. His trademark open-mouth, bobbing-head style on the court has led to Payton receiving the second-most technical fouls of all time. This, along with other factors, earned Payton a reputation as a difficult, volatile, and somewhat egotistical presence in the locker room, which was further fueled by various fines and suspensions handed out to him by team management during Payton's last few years in Seattle.
However, many players, including Shaquille O'Neal and Antoine Walker, have greatly enjoyed playing with Payton, and in Boston and Miami, he has been recognized as a psychological leader. Many view his trash talking not as unsportsmanlike conduct, but as an extension of his natural competitiveness (it was once commented that he couldn't stand losing a game of pool or darts in the locker room any more than he could on the basketball court). Of his trash talking, Payton has stated "I never take it too far...I just try to talk and get their mind off the game, and turn their attention on me", adding that "sometimes I get accused of trash talking even though I'm not...[referees and spectators] immediately figure you're trash talking. But I could be talking to a guy about what's going on or asking about his family." One of Payton's major beliefs is that "mental toughness" is as much a part of the game as on-court play. In addition, All-Star point guard Jason Kidd has referred to Payton as a "mentor" for the way he treated Kidd growing up in the same neighborhood of Oakland.
Payton's on the court playing style has been one area where few have questioned his fortitude. His all-time rankings for points (23rd) and assists (6th) highlight the tremendous offensive contributions he made throughout his career, but he is most widely recognized for his intangible defensive contributions. He is the only guard to have won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award since Michael Jordan in 1988, and his 9 selections to the NBA All-Defensive First Team are tied for the highest total of all time. He is currently 3rd all-time in career steals. Payton is also considered one of the best defensive opponents of Michael Jordan , and was assigned to play defense as a shooting guard in order to defend Jordan during the 1996 NBA finals. An all-around player, Payton also ranks 5th all-time among guards in defensive rebounds, 12th in offensive rebounds, and 10th in total rebounds for a guard.
Many attribute his greatness to the tremendous work ethic and courage he displayed throughout his career. In 16 seasons, Payton has missed only 11 games, and at one point held the longest active streak for consecutive games played, with over 300. Of those games he did miss, many were due to suspensions or coaches' decisions, as Payton was highly capable (and highly willing) of playing through injury, oftentimes starting games wearing bandages across his abdomen or lower back. The hard-working and well-conditioned Karl Malone was the only player to log more minutes of playing time than Payton in the 1990s, and since the 1990-1991 season when Payton joined the league, no player has logged more total minutes (as of the end of the 2005-2006 season). Sports Illustrated magazine labeled Payton's 2003-2004 season as the best season ever by a point guard aged 35 or higher, and Payton has continued to play at a high level even as he advances in age.
In his later years, Payton has gained recognition as a clutch performer.
Payton has made numerous well-regarded contributions of both time and money to the community. He set up The Gary Payton Foundation  in 1996 to provide safe places for recreational activity, and to help underprivileged youth in his hometown of Oakland stay in school. Payton and his wife, Monique, have been active in fundraising endeavors for HIV awareness, and Payton has lent many hours and provided tremendous financial support to the Boys & Girls Club of America and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Payton has also donated Miami HEAT tickets to underprivileged children. For Christmas, 2005, he gave 60 children $100 Toys-R-Us shopping sprees as part of the Voices For Children program. In 1999 he wrote an autobiographical children's book entitled Confidence Counts as part of the "Positively for Kids" series, illustrating the importance of confidence through events in his own life.
Lakers Players News
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Bryant fizzles as Lakers lose to league-worst Memphis (AFP via Yahoo! News) Tarence Kinsey scored a season-high 24 points and Rudy Gay added 20 and 12 rebounds as Memphis slowed down Kobe Bryant and posted an 88-86 win over the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday.
Kobe's Streak Ends; Lakers Embarrassed (Washington Post) Kobe Bryant is held to 7-of-26 shooting and only 23 points as his string of five-straight 40 point games comes to an end in the Lakers' damaging 88-86 home loss to Memphis.
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