Undeniably, the game has drastically changed. Records are being broken all the time as the rules and players are more and more focused on offense. Gary Payton is well aware of it, and he has grown tired of modern-day NBA stars claiming the old heads wouldn’t be able to dominate in today’s game.
If Payton could, he would
In recent times, the debate about eras has become quite a staple in several discussions. Payton decided to share his honest take on it, and as expected, “The Glove” did not mince his words.
In an interview with HoopsHype in 2020, Payton said he kept hearing younger guys saying, “Well, in your era, you guys couldn’t do this or that.” But he thinks they have no right to say that because, back then, they were also athletic and dominant.
To further intensify his argument, Payton even said he wished he had a time machine to show these youngsters who they were dealing with.
“If that’s the case, I wish you could come to our era and play in our era. I wish we had a time machine so that we could put them in our era and see how they would fare,” Payton pointed out. “Sometimes, they say, ‘Well, you couldn’t play in this era because of the shooting and scoring!’ Well, when we were in our early 20s, we were pretty athletic and dominant too; that’s why you know about us.”
It’s all about scoring now
Another hot subject Payton touched on was the evident change in the players’ mentality and how the game is being officiated these days. The NBA Hall of Famer stressed nobody is trying to stop the best player from the opposing team at all costs and “you can’t put your hands on guys.” Payton reckoned that all they care about now is racking up points.
“The league is about scoring; they want you to score and they want to run up the points, so it’s entertaining,” Payton added. “In our era, we were talking about locking guys down. We were talking about beating you up. We were talking about putting you on your back if you tried to come in the paint and dunk. We wanted you to think that you may get hurt every time you came in the paint.”
The Glove made a good point. No matter how valid it is, there’s no way we can figure out which era is better. But we know which one was tougher.