The invention of social media platforms changed the world we live in, in its entirety, and it impacted the way NBA players interact and communicate with their fans. Even though social media and smartphones we have today improved our life, in some way, our privacy is no longer only ours, and everything players do or say is available worldwide almost instantly. There are various advantages and disadvantages of this, and former NBA player Gary Payton talked about how great it was playing in an era with no smartphones and social media.
In an interview he did with Darren Rovell at the LA All-Star in 2018, Payton talked about the difficulties players have today in keeping their private life out of the hands of media at all times. He remembers how when he was a young player in the NBA, Payton would still love to party, and there were times when he would come with a hangover to the game, but nobody knew it. Because he was young, it was easier for him to go out and party and next day come to a game and score 30 if necessary, and that is something he did quite frequently, according to him.
That was the good thing about our era because we didn’t have these phones so we could go out and party. I would put 30 shots of alcohol on the table, drink it and be sloppy drunk, and nobody would film that. Nobody is telling me the next day, ‘hey he took 30 shots, and he was drunk, and he plays like that’. It was just the way my body was, and I could do it that way, and I used to do it a lot. I used to have fun, and it was good. You need to have a mindset where you can’t go out there, trying to be drunk and then get up there and go.Gary Payton, via Darren Rovell
Everything Payton said makes sense, and we’ve seen on multiple occasions in the last couple of years how social media and smartphones got players in trouble. They were at places they weren’t supposed to be, and after various players got caught on camera and social media, they had to either explain themselves or even pay multiple fines if they broke some rules of conduct. Luckily for Payton, he had the freedom and privacy players don’t have today, which enabled him to act more freely in many regards, much more than players nowadays.