Skip to main content

Gary Payton explains why Jason Kidd was the first LeBron


Jason Kidd had a great career in the league, in which he played multiple times and won many accolades and one Larry O'Bryan trophy. He shared rookie of the year award with Grant Hill, but even before any of these things, he was turning heads in the Bay Area. He was a high school phenom, and in words of great Gray Payton, he was LeBron long before LeBron was even in the NBA.

"People don't know, J was the first LeBron [when it came to the attention surrounding one player] coming out of high school."

Gary Payton took him under his wing, mentoring him on the court. While giving an interview for ESPN, Kidd said Payton locked him down on defense immediately. On top of that, he was always trash-talking Kid saying he wasn't good enough.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended Articles

"He wouldn't let me score. [And] he would tell me you are not going to score ... that I was soft and that I wasn't good enough. And for a kid in high school that was built up to be this great high school player, it was very humbling and hard to swallow."

He admitted that Payton's defense and trash-talking almost made him think about quitting basketball. Maybe this tutoring molded him into a high-school phenom Payton talked about.

In his teenage years standing at 6-foot-4 and NBA ready, he drew national coverage. He was compared to Magic Johnson and Bob Cousy while balling in St. Joseph (Alameda) High School. The school had 122-14 record and won two state championships. During that time the demand to see him play made the school to move their home games to the Oakland Coliseum Arena. That was a challenge for a school that had just under 500 students because they had to play in the arena of average seating for 12,000 people.

During his high-school days, he played pick up games with the NBA players such as Chris Mullin, Mitch Richmond and Tim Hardaway alongside his good friend and mentor Gary Payton. Playing with those guys while wearing braces on his teeth explains the fact why he was the nation's highest recruited player. He did all that in an era without social media and highlight videos that prove the point that his talent was off the charts. When we look at his career from this perspective, the buzz was on point, as he was one of the best point guards of his era and the best example of how you don't need to score to dominate the game.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo offers a stern warning to the rest of the NBA amid another strong season - "Do I think I'm better this year? One hundred percent. Do I believe I've shown it? No."

Antetokounmpo believes that he is an improved player from last season, but frighteningly enough, he doesn't believe that he has shown his improvements this season

Ja Morant

Ja Morant speaks on his confrontation with Andrew Nembhard in the Memphis Grizzlies' latest win -“I checked his temperature. He didn’t have a fever”

Morant stepped in when Nembhard told his dad, Tee Morant, to shut up, and quickly put Nembhard in his place by telling him he wasn't hot enough to have a fever

Giannis Antetokounmpo

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the humblest superstar, talks about his cheapness and the number one thing he spends his money on

Giannis Antetokounmpo reflects on being called cheap and the number one thing he spends his money on

Zach Randolph

“I learned everything like a soldier” - Zach Randolph recalls his first years playing alongside Scottie Pippen and Rasheed Wallace

Zach Randolph talks about the humble beginnings of his career, as well as how playing alongside NBA's greats Scottie Pippen and Rasheed Wallace helped him develop into the player he became

Tracy McGrady

"I don’t broadcast that, I don’t show that off a lot" - Tracy McGrady on his low-key AAU program

T-Mac's program has a perk which teaches his pupils about the reality of life

Rick Barry

“Do you know how much better I would be if I was playing today?” - Rick Barry once explained why he would’ve thrived in this era

A longtime coach likened Barry to Luka recently to show a modern-day comparison for the Warriors legend.

Reggie Miller

“When people say they don’t regret it, they’re lying” - Reggie Miller once revealed not winning a ring “burns” him

Miller also opted to remain loyal with the Pacers instead of chasing a ring with the Celtics in 2007.