Gary Payton and John Wall can relate to each other's early career struggles, which is why The Glove has made for a good mentor to the young Wizards point guard. But apparently we never knew exactly how bad it was for Payton in his early days with the Seattle Supersonics.
Payton wanted to play a certain way, have a level of freedom and confidence in him from his coaching staff. But as a rookie and second-year player, he says he didn't get that under former coach K.C. Jones. Actually, it was so bad that Payton considered walking away from the game of basketball entirely. Of course, he had people in his life to advise him against that.
Here's what the Hall of Famer had to say to Scott Howard-Cooper at NBA.com:
“I was thinking about it,” Payton said in a phone conversation from his home in Las Vegas. “I was like, ‘What am I out here for? This isn’t even what I want to do. I’m not happy.’ I didn’t want to do anything….
“If we wouldn’t have changed coaches (from K.C. Jones to George Karl),” Payton said, “I would have probably said, ‘Yo, you know what? I want to end this. I don’t want to do this anymore because I’m not happy.’ If they would have stayed with the same coach, I would have probably just shut it down. They would have tried to trade me or I would have told them I don’t want to play there anymore.
“I went to my agent, I went to my father, I just said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m good enough to play in this league. I’ve got a coach who wants to play me in the first and the third quarter. He has no confidence in me.’ They told me the same thing. ‘You’ve got to stick it out. You’ve got to be the guy who you’re supposed to be. You’re tough. You’re this.’ My father was like, ‘Are you crazy? If you quit, I’m gonna get in your (body).’ Stuff like that.”
It's interesting to hear from a HOFer saying he couldn't play for another, especially one who won titles as a player and coach. But Payton found a coach that was willing to coddle him a bit, and it obviously worked.