During a practice at the ’00 Olympics, Gary Payton and Ray Allen got into it. It was one of those scrimmages where everybody’s going hard, and the physicality level is through the roof. In such an atmosphere, there’s a fine line between playing hard and playing dirty, and according to The Glove, Allen had crossed that line.
Ray pushed me on the way up on a layup. When he pushed me, he walked away like he didn’t care. So when he turned around, I hit him. We got into it, and Rudy pulled me to the side, so I apologized, and we left it alone after that.Gary Payton, Sonics Forever
Team USA ended up doing what they were sent to do; they won the Olympic Gold Medal. They did it by upping the team’s overall win-loss record in Olympic tournaments to 109-2. Once again, the USA went undefeated on their way to the Gold, behind a balanced team effort where all the players scored between 14.8 and 5.5 points per game.
Vince Carter led the U.S. in scoring and was third overall in the Olympics averaging 14.8, while Garnett added 10.8 PPG and an Olympics-high 9.1 rebounds. Ray Allen finished the tournament as the team’s fourth-leading scorer (9.8 PPG), while its captain and the second oldest player in the group Gary Payton averaged 5.5 PPG and 3.4 APG, ranking him eighth among all players.
Two of them didn’t let their scuffle impact their performance and become a possible chemistry disruptor. That’s why it never grew into something bigger. All the animosity between Ray and Gary was overshadowed by the greatness of their basketball accomplishment, and that’s where they left it.
Years later, the two of them got in the middle of one of the worst trades in NBA history, after the Bucks shipped a 27-year-old Allen for a 34-game rental of The Glove, wanting to reunite him with his former head coach in George Karl. After they went out in the first round of the Playoffs to the Nets, Karl was fired, and Payton decided to sign with the Lakers.
So in terms of basketball controversies involving Ray Allen and Gary Payton, the one-sidedness of this deal may have been the bigger one than their scuffle during the ’00 Olympics. That one ruined a single practice. This one ruined a years-long stretch for an NBA organization, and Bucks fans will never get over that.