Durant should accept spot down Warriors' pecking order: Payton
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[October 26, 2016]
By Jahmal Corner
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Prized Golden
State acquisition Kevin Durant should not try to become the team
leader at his new home, says Hall of Famer Gary Payton.
Instead, Payton suggests Durant take a back seat to his incumbent
team mates and be a quiet if effective role player for the 2015 NBA
champions when the new season begins on Tuesday.
Payton, one of the all-time alpha males of the NBA who once
trash-talked Michael Jordan, believes in the perhaps old-fashioned
idea of a teamís pecking order and is not convinced that just
showing up at Golden State should lift Durant to leading man status.
"Thatís not his team. Thatís (Stephen Curry), (Klay Thompson) and
Draymond Greenís team,Ē Payton told Reuters recently. "Heís supposed
to follow suit. I donít like when players (take a step back for a
new player). "Itís your team. Let that man come in there and be a
part of the team."
Durant, 28, the 2014 NBA most valuable player, sent shockwaves
through the league in July when he left the Oklahoma City Thunder
for the already-powerful Warriors.
More than a decade ago, Payton formed his own super team when he
joined Shaquille OíNeal, Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone with the Los
Angeles Lakers in 2003.
The star-studded group, while not short of talent, famously fell
short in the NBA Finals amid locker room dysfunction and Bryantís
legal proceedings after being charged with sexual assault.
Payton, 48, who was in Los Angeles to promote a first-year Dew NBA
3X basketball tournament put on by Mountain Dew and the NBA, can
relate to the challenge of trying to mesh with large egos.
That said, Payton notes differences between his teaming with the
Lakers and Durant latching on to the Warriors at the peak of his
"(Malone and I) werenít in our prime (when we signed)," said Payton,
who inked with Los Angeles just before his 35th birthday. "In my
prime I never wouldíve done it. Ever. Never in my prime would I go
to a team with Jordan, (Malone), (John Stockton). None of them."
Like many retired greats, the notion of joining forces with a rival
is offensive to Paytonís competitive sensibilities.
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Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) poses for a photo
during media day at the Warriors Practice Facility. Mandatory
Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
A nine-times NBA All Star, Payton terrorized opponents with both
offense and defense while spending the bulk of his 17-year career
with the now defunct Seattle SuperSonics. Nicknamed 'The Glove' for
his smothering defense, a moniker given to him by his cousin after a
dominating performance against All Star guard Kevin Johnson, Payton
is the only point guard ever to garner the NBAís Defensive Player of
the Year Award, in 1996.
His fearless approach was best defined that year in the NBA Finals
when he squared off with Jordan and gave as good as he got from the
leagueís greatest player during a competitive series which the
Sonics lost 4-2 in the best-of-seven with Chicago.
ďI said anything I wanted to him, and thatís why he respected me so
much (because) I stayed in his face,Ē Payton said. "Everyone says
Ďheís a great playerí but Iím a great player too. I didnít think
anyone was better than me when I played. Iím not going to be on the
court saying Ďohhh, ahhh, thatís Michael Jordan.í I donít care about
that. Iím Gary Payton.Ē
(Editing by Andrew Both)
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