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Steve Francis on his first game against Gary Payton: "I had Gary so shook that he couldn’t believe it."


Hearing NBA players sharing stories when they played against their idols for the first time in their careers is always an exciting read. One of the best guards in the early 2000s, Steve Francis, received a lot of attention because of his unbelievable athleticism and the ability to crossover everybody without much effort. In a story for The Players Tribune, Francis talks about his idol Gary Payton and the first matchup.

Francis was surprised to find out how much trash talking Payton does on the court, from the first minute the game starts until the last minute.

“I can’t forget about Gary Payton. Listen, man … I’ve been around an unbelievable amount of s**t talkers in my life. I’ve been around some dudes better than GP. Way more creative, way more sinister. But this dude … this dude was like a volume shooter of shit talking. He would not shut the hell up from the minute we got on the court. And like I said, I idolized him. So there was no other option — I had to kill his ass.”

Steve Francis, via The Players Tribune

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According to Francis, he dominated Payton scoring 27 points; however, the Supersonics beat the Rockets that game despite his effort. He didn’t want to get into any conversation with Payton but played his game and got the best out of Payton that night.

“Look up the stats. I KILLED his a*s. He shot like 30%. And I know some little nerd is gonna be all up on my Twitter page like, “Nah, Steve, ACTUALLY I dug up the box score on Google and he ACTUALLY shot 39%. Come on, man, I ACTUALLY killed his ass.

I had 27 points on 20 shots, I know that for a fact. I think Seattle even beat us that night, but I had Gary so shook that he couldn’t believe it.”

Steve Francis, via The Players Tribune

Francis retired from the NBA relatively early, at the age of 30, and during his career, was voted as an All-Star three times while playing for the Houston Rockets. Despite playing relatively short in the NBA, Francis left his mark and brought crowds to their feet almost every night during his prime years.

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