Gary Payton almost retired after rookie season
It’s not unusual at all for rookies to struggle in the NBA, and all sports for that matter. The game is just faster at the elite level, not to mention the caliber of competition skyrockets. Thus, it makes sense for rookies to get down on themselves and lose confidence.
Back in 1990, then rookie, and now Hall of Famer Gary Payton was going through the typical rookie struggles. However, Payton was taking it harder than most, and said he almost quit basketball altogether.
Here is what he told Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com:
“I was thinking about it,” Payton said in a phone conversation from his home in Las Vegas. “I was like, ‘What am I out here for? This isn’t even what I want to do. I’m not happy.’ I didn’t want to do anything….
“If we wouldn’t have changed coaches (from K.C. Jones to George Karl),” Payton said, “I would have probably said, ‘Yo, you know what? I want to end this. I don’t want to do this anymore because I’m not happy.’ If they would have stayed with the same coach, I would have probably just shut it down. They would have tried to trade me or I would have told them I don’t want to play there anymore.
While Payton credits the coaching switch to his sticking it out in the league, he also says his father and agent played a crucial role in the process:
“I went to my agent, I went to my father, I just said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m good enough to play in this league. I’ve got a coach who wants to play me in the first and the third quarter. He has no confidence in me.’ They told me the same thing. ‘You’ve got to stick it out. You’ve got to be the guy who you’re supposed to be. You’re tough. You’re this.’ My father was like, ‘Are you crazy? If you quit, I’m gonna get in your (body).’ Stuff like that.”
This just goes to show the delicacy of the mentality in NBA players. We are talking about a Hall of Famer, and arguably the best defensive guard of our generation. To think that he almost called it quits in his rookie campaign is mind-boggling. It’s safe to say he made the right choice by sticking it out.
By: Frank Santos- Pass the Pill Manager