While there have been plenty of fierce competitors in NBA history, few players could hang with Kevin Garnett. The Big Ticket never took a day off, as Doc Rivers learned the hard way during their time in Boston. If you impressed the forward, you had to be doing something right. Gary Payton apparently was.
During an old episode of All the Smoke, KG recounted how he witnessed The Glove orchestrate the entire game with his trash talk. While the story sounded so unbelievable that sound doubted its accuracy, we now have confirmation.
Payton sat down with Garnett for a Showtime Basketball interview and shared his version of events. As the point guard tells it, he knew exactly how to manipulate the situation to engineer the perfect outcome.
Kevin Garnett remembered witnessing Gary Payton’s trash-talking chops firsthand
Over the years, Kevin Garnett had no problem flexing his metaphorical muscles and talking a bit of smack. The Glove, however, still blew the big man ways with his verbal skills.
“I saw Gary Payton control the referees, his coach, my coach, the crowd, the lady in the front, the guy who was on the side of the Minnesota game,” KG recounted on All the Smoke. “He was controlling the whole game. I watched GP back down the guard from baseline to baseline, talking the whole time. ‘Shut yo ass up. Four up twist. Hey, get his ass in here. Hey, come up. Hey, you see the hand on the hip. Call it if you see it.'”
Garnett wasn’t an amateur trash-talker, but he was still blown away. Not only was the guard playing the entire arena like an orchestra conductor, but he still managed to take care of business. There’s nothing worse, after all, than someone who talks a big game without backing it up.
“Finally, I’m like, ‘How is GP managing all this?’ He talking to me, he calling the play, he throwing the ball. … And still scoring the ball, stealing the ball, effective. In the huddle, he in the huddle, he got the thing, he drawing it up. I’m like, yo, to me, GP was masterful.”
Gary Payton has since told his side of that same story during an interview with KG
When you hear Garnett’s version of events, it’s easy to assume that things were a bit embellished over time. Perhaps Payton did a few of those things, and KG’s mind took over from there. If we take the guard at his word, though, that isn’t the case.
“You know, it’s a gift,” Payton told Garnett on Showtime Basketball’s Youtube channel. “Because Coach [George] Karl used to always tell the other coaches, right? ‘Why Gary sitting over there on the scorer’s table, and he not in the huddle?’ And George would like, ‘Leave him alone, he hear everything I’m saying.’ And then I walk out and say, ‘Why y’all worried about the f*** I’m saying, whatever the f*** I’m doing over here? I bet I call the right play, so leave it alone.’ And then somebody else will say over there, and I said, ‘Yeah, I called him a motherf*****. That’s right.'”
While cursing out two different parties would be enough for most players, The Glove was different.
“I’ll do from there to there to there,” the guard continued. “And then I’ll go ref, [Steve] Javie. ‘Man, why the hell didn’t you call that call, man? You see he got his hand on my hip. Why the hell you doing it? You letting him do it. ‘ You know what I’m saying? And then I started, then I walk over when we’re about to take the ball out of bounds, and it’ll be like, ‘Yeah, your ass here talking in the stands. I’ll give it to yo ass, too.’ You know what I’m saying? I do it all in one.”
And lest you think that Payton was just running on pure adrenaline and letting the insults fly, that wasn’t the case. He knew exactly what he was doing.
It’s just a gift to remember and see everything around because that’s where the trash-talking get. If you can get into everybody’s head, and they pay attention to me, KG, then what they gonna do? They gonna focus on me and don’t focus on nothing else. Then it makes me be in control of everybody because I’m gonna play more and more better. I’mma get better and better. You not. You’re gonna be focused on me. Then, all of a sudden, I get you in foul trouble. Ahh, you sub out of here. Then I’m talking to the referee. He’s starting to get on my side and give me calls. Then, all of a sudden, the stands, they over there, they feeling like trash because I killing they team. So I’m winning. It’s a win-win-win-win.Gary Payton
And there you have it, straight from the master himself. It’s easy to see why KG was impressed with Payton’s masterwork.