Payton Not Impressed With Today’s NBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Gary Payton is a Hall of Famer and one of the best point guards the NBA has ever seen. He’s also one of the most blunt and outspoken players the league has ever seen. So you know things can get interesting when you have GP and live microphones in close proximity.

Payton entered the league at the tail end of the Magic JohnsonLarry Bird era, played through the Michael Jordan years and kept going until deep into the dynasties of the Shaquille O’NealKobe Bryant-led Lakers and the Tim Duncan-led Spurs. As such, he has a unique perspective on the league and some pointed opinions on the state of the game today.

In short, Payton is not impressed with “basically everything” about the game today. He opened up about it before “Gary Payton Night” at his alma mater, Oregon State. See for yourself (he goes in on the NBA around the 9:28 mark):

VIDEO: Gary Payton goes in on today’s NBA and the flaws he sees in the game


  1. JimD54 says:

    I will never forget game 2 of the ECF in 2012 when the Heat went to the line verses the Celtics 47 times, I’ve been watching NBA since the sixties and have never seen a team shoot that many free throws in one game, it’s true the NBA is a farce these days…

  2. Frankie D says:

    Players are coddledtoday, and in a way the games of today are predictable not for cheating on the refs part per-say but the fact that the way the rules are laid out it falls right into the hands of the offense and the Star players of Today. Shout Out (DEFENSE)

  3. Frankie D says:

    Finally someone I can truly and sincerely agree with. I am biased I am a Bay Area Native and he is one of my favorites. However, I feel that close to 70% or more of the players today in the NBA could not hang with players of the past. The game is too soft just as it is with the NFL, it makes it easy for the players who are considered top shelf of the league to stay that way. Although Lebron James I feel could play in any era but he would not be the best due to the fact that older players are smarter than the players we have now. They would force him to shoot jumpers much more and the rules back then allowed tough defense so your basketball skills had to be well rounded in the former NBA

  4. niko says:

    Funny – he sais NBA players are too young and have no experience. Then he mentions Lebron, Kobe and Garnet. All players who came straight from high school and have turned out to be proven (and very tough) players.

  5. EdStarUK says:

    I’m with Payton, In this era there would be no glove, no mailman, no his airness because none of the players in today’s game would take pride in their own game against another player! I remember when guards (jordan) won defensive player of the year because he could lock a scorer down to single digit points! Whatever happened to the dream match ups because of how tough two players would play each other? These days its accepted that someone like Paul George as good as he is can waltz around the best player in the league for a dunk! NO WAY that is happening in the 80s and 90s and no way would you show appreciation to him after for doing it to you.

    Kobe understands, although these days it’s only really shown on Allstar nights.

    League is losing it’s style and attitude.

  6. Messed up says:

    The thing that bugs me the most, are how easy an offensive foul is whistled today.
    You bump in a guy, and it’s an automatic offensive foul.
    I still remember O’Neal bashing Mutombo in the Finals some 10 years ago, and Mutombo taking it like a man.
    If O’Neal did those moves today, he wouldn’t be in the game for long. Sixers would’ve won the Finals.

  7. Eaglos says:

    In Europe it’s all about defense and you see games ending with scores like 60-55…
    In Nba it’s all about bigger, stronger, faster and you see scores like 130-120…

    Searching for middle ground between eye hurting and video game basketball…

  8. J4CK Nicholson says:

    Payton played on one of the NBA’s (or perhaps the basketball world) best era. There’s MJ, Pip and the Bulls, Penny, Shaq and the Magic, Stockton, Malone and the Jazz, so on and so forth. The rules IMO are changed to adapt to the international rules. Yes the hand checks and hard fouls are part of the “Big Man’s Game” but the Team USA struggles during Olympics and world championships. I just hope that the international rules adapt more to the NBA than the other way around.

  9. Tyson says:

    Gary should be a carpenter because he hit that nail right on the head with a hammer.

  10. okc2014 says:

    Definitely more crybabies playing nowadays. Maybe they need to supply tissues with the towels. Kobe Bryant needs the whole box.

  11. mgm says:

    Shawn Kemp No.1 is right…that is HIS era..things change for the better even though some people don’t want to embrace it, where not the same during PG era, SMART PHONES?, Computers? probably he just want to play in this era knowing all the PERKS this ERA NBA Players get…grow up man…embrace the future…i bet you don’t drive the same car now when you were still playing..maybe still without power steering…

  12. Gillsy says:

    It reminds me of when they talked to Tim Hardaway snr. With his killer crossover, he practiced and practised without carrying the ball. But they then relaxed the rules in the 2000’s with guys like Iverson. So now everyone carries the ball.

  13. truth says:

    unfortunately the nba is a business, that is what most of yall fail to understand. The nba is interested in generating more income year after year, thus explaining why soon, there will be ads on the jerseys. If generating more income means skewing the rules to attract fans then they definitely will do that. In the end, the game will never ever be the same again

  14. RRfromfr says:

    why FOX are spending millions for broadcasting soccer if everything is about flopping ?

  15. Somebody else says:

    Traditional Gary Payton – This is what I think and I’m gonna say it. He talks alot of sense about the defending and young players in the game now especially from a strong defender like him, but it’s funny that he works for the NBA but yet he say’s he doesn’t like anything about it now. Also if he doesn’t want people to compare his son to him it would have helped if he didn’t name his son after him. He has really pushed it by having two sons named after him. One is bad enough but two! It’s almost as bad as George Foreman.

  16. RRfromfr says:

    stop with soccer u dotn know anything about this sport (the most popular in the world BTW)

  17. lol says:

    henriquebfs lillard as a rookie was already better than parker fact all you have to do is watch their matches nuff said

    • henriquebfs says:

      I disagree! Tony Parker, for me, is an elite PG. I enjoy Lillard, hes very good, but got some steps to reach TP’s level. Of course, this is my opinion, and that was yours.

  18. Catmeow says:

    To true the game is so soft at the moment. David stern out Gary Payton in , to sort the nba out

  19. Chris says:

    I agree completely with him. There’s hardly any defense in the NBA anymore because they can’t play defense without getting a foul called. Plus a $5000 fine for flopping is nothing to someone who makes 5 million dollars in one year. That’s literally like me buying a pack of soda. They need to start suspending players without pay for flopping.

  20. Sonics says:

    Yes! GP basically said the same sentiments that the fans of the 80s and the 90s have. I’d also trust what he says because he knows what he’s saying. And he’s the best defensive point guard in history.

  21. bob says:


  22. Jose Louis Brown says:

    its a bit tragic that the game doesn’t give the defense much room to work with but if your going to give the defense leverage you gotta give the offense some as well. people don’t pay money to come into to stadiums and watch their teams play defense and low scores. people want fast pace-basket scoring-completely high octane basketball… who remembered when the game just began and teams use to stall the ball and stuff, thats why they made the 24 second shot clock. the defense cant get too much room to work with and the offense cant get away with too much either. Oklahoma City for life thou….

  23. speak the truth Gary Payton

  24. El Perro says:

    Well,,,,Gary sure have some good pointers,,,,compared to the ol´days the NBA now is kinda soft and im even seing some players diving wich ticks me off,,,,in soccer?fine but not in basketball,,,especially in the best league in the world.
    Now it seems like most of the so called starplayers even as much as get a hand on themselves they turn to the refs and complain,,,,You go Gary!!respect!=)

  25. RPT says:

    Oh Please, Michael Jordan STARTED the video game scoring era. If he played today he’d probably average over 40 a game, not cause there is no D but because of the continuation rule. And are we watching the same NBA cause what are these touch fouls you guys are talking about? Roy Hibbert who is a lock for defensive player of the year does not foul out that much, LeBron who cornered the market on chase down blocks made D fun to watch again, is a GREAT defender in a half court set up I might add and fouled out against BKLN the other day for the first time in four years!

    Every player, EVERY player always talk about their ea being better than the current one. Lebron will be saying the same thing 15 years from now.

    On another note, how many basketball “Jr’s” are we going to see? Tim Hardaway Jr, Gary Payton jr., Jeffrey Jordan

  26. NBaTRUTH says:

    Am I the only one who remembers the Heat-Pacers series? Players were bleeding and no one fouled out! Did anyone hear him say “Superstrars like me fouled out of the game all the time , that’s how we played basketball” and then he went on to say that “You cant guard anyone 1 on 1” because they spent all the time on the free throw line? Which one is it GARY!?? Is it ok to call fouls and foul out every superstar or do you want them to stop calling fouls so they can play defense??

  27. Mesavi says:

    Very impressive GP, well said

  28. jim says:

    Always something out of the blue with GP. Can’t remember the name of the guy he likes a lot. lol.

    Loved watching him back then, no one had a two way motor like him.

    He couldn’t stay in front of Lillard, Wall, Irving, defend Curry, Parker. It’s the heyday of great combo guards, who need to be funneled into help, that’s the way defense is taught.

    No they bang plenty but save most of it for the playoffs. Bad teams don’t give effort, but the top defensive teams bring it every night. Those Seattle teams weren’t all that defensively but for GP. He was a force of nature but he’d be just another guard today.

  29. migsrocks says:

    players get paid so much money to flop and cry. you got CP3, james and wade and harden. they all need to play like durant and westbrook and old school Koby, attack no matter the amount of contact. Its a sport they need contact. let them play not cry and drive big black fancy cars…..

    • henriquebfs says:

      Durant? Hes for sure the guy that gets more FTs with superstar calls, man. He goes through contact, yea, but he get the free throws very easily

  30. lol says:

    so he don’t care much about lillard he said parker cp3 no Lillard

    • henriquebfs says:

      So? All guars he mentioned are playmalers. Lillard is a good pg, but has a way to go to get to those 3 guys

  31. bballfan says:

    Words of wisdom!! I hope his comments get pushed out there, and creates dialog to change people’s view of the game. Hopefully especially the NBA takes note, so that TRUE basketball fans like the ones who have commented thus far will not turn away from the game. Gary kind of mentioned something I tell people all the time; part of what made MJ so great is that he had to deal with defenders on him and he still scored his points (i.e. The Bad Boys). When players today score 30+ points, maybe 15 of them they actually had someone defending them.

  32. jfack says:

    i like todays nba actually. players are getting better and better. more athletic dunkers and sniper shooters like steph curry. its fun to watch. some calls can be a little ridiculous sometimes but… i feel the ticky tacky fouls are more pointed at superstars.. thats what needs to change. not give superstars all the calls. plus the ticky tack technical foul calls. get a tec just by throwin your hands in the air or something. getting a lil too sensitive… i guess thats the overall point.. is its true nba has gotten soft in that aspect. its still a pretty physical sport. fun to watch with all the talent. lets just face it football basketball, baseball prob is gonna change the no run into the catcher thing if they already didnt idk. face it all sports are getting softer.. just how it goes with the safety stuff… but at least theyre not soccer yet lol.. (flop oh my leg my leg ) oh jk im ok

  33. Shawn Kemp No. 1 says:

    what the hell is he talking about? video game era? players had higher point averages back then, there were like 15 guys averaging over 25 points, today there’s only what, 3? he wants to play one on one defense in a team of five people? him and Steve “If you can’t guard your man one-on-one you shouldn’t play in this league” Smith should get together, get a drink or two and then shoot themselves in the head. why don’t we take out the three-point line again so that these so called “shooters” who don’t want to play one-on-one and get to the basket can’t score threes from a distance

    i mean i LOVE basketball from that era. grew up watching it and i’d never trade it for today’s NBA, but he’s talking nonsense

  34. Den says:

    He’s absolutely right, but how come no one complains about all the touch fouls on MJ? In my opinion MJ is porbably the pioneer of “superstar foul calls”…

  35. Say, whaat?! says:

    The entire world feels the same way… if only there was a way to get the NBA to listen to the fans!

  36. eastbrook russell says:

    Everyone agrees Payton is right, yet when you see a hard foul most people will talk about unnecessary hit, and well, if you are Lebron James you will say it’s not a basketball play. None of what the Bulls did in that series against Miami were basketball plays on that paradigm. It is what it is, all sports change for better or for worse. Back then it was all about 1-on-1 D, now it’s about communicating and 5 people defending as a unit. If you watch games during the 80s or even 90s you’re surprised by how little communication you would occasionally see in a team’s defense. Others reminisce over soccer in the 60s and 70s when it was all show, yet if you look back at videos you laugh at the defense beats. I have no problem with either run n gun, or a team like the bulls playing oldschool the right way. But let’s be honest here. What have been the most fun teams to watch in the last decade? The 120 ppg Suns with Nash’s and Amare’s joke defense, and a number of other high octane teams with superstars who wouldn’t be making all the plays they do if calling a foul was stricter, Those Suns were the best thing to watch in the NBA after the Jordan Era. . I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to be attracted to the aesthetics of this sort of fast pace basketball. Back in Payton’s day you either had to defend at a high level, or you were a bad team-no longer the case. To the point though, what really HAS TO change in today’s NBA are flops, ridiculous fines, everything about twitter, and perhaps the players being in all these lame ads. And for Christ’s sake, no more timeouts. Also, people like JR Smith making so much money.

    • slider821 says:

      well said and I agree with everything except the last remark about salary. A guy will get paid commiserate to the value he provides to the team, or at least what the GM values him at and no one is forcing the other’s hand. JR gets paid exactly what NYK feels he’s worth (or was worth!). If his actions deem him of lesser value, his next contract will reflect that.

      My biggest complaint is the reactionary calls, the automatic calls, the way certain players play the refs and the way the refs let some players get away with things like flopping, whining, etc. CP3 is a fantastic player, best PG in the game, but his game is despicable with all the flopping and whining. Players need to get punished for these actions, not rewarded.

      Also a $5000 fine on a flop does nothing to reduce flopping. Any NBA player with a multimillion dollar salary would rather flop, win a game, and pay $5k than not flop and lose. That’s a problem.

      • Sterrance says:

        The problem with CP’s despicable game is that the game is officiated in such a way that it teaches players to play according to the rules as they given, something Chris understands well enough to exploit. If he were coming up in the 90’s his game would have developed differently, as would anyone else. I won’t pretend to know how good a guy like him would be back then, but I have to imagine with him being compared to Isaiah Thomas that he’d have at least fit in. I agree with Shawn Kemp No. 1 a bit in that I think every player thinks their’s was the greatest ere and the point where the NBA reached its greatest stature. It’s an evolving game, just be glad that it’s not on the same pace as football. Football may not exist in 25 years with the rules, the size of players, and the long term effects on the athletes.

  37. demagofrak says:

    and i don’t speak about the music in game. i don’t talk about it

  38. demagofrak says:

    The league’s TV deals kept growing: four years and $173 million with CBS in 1986, $600 million over four years when NBC took the network package in 1990. The rights rose to $892 million in 1994, $1.6 billion in 1998, $2.4 billion in 2002 (when ABC and ESPN got the rights)

    Cable television entered the picture, with USA Network reaching a three-year, $1.5 million deal in 1979, and USA and ESPN splitting a two-year, $11 million deal in 1982. In 1986, Turner (my company) got the cable package for two years and $25 million; TBS and TNT re-upped in 1988 for $50 million. And the numbers only went up: $275 million, $397 million, $840 million, $2.2 billion.

    The last combined broadcast/cable deals: seven years, $7.44 billion, through the 2015-16 season.


  39. LeggoHeat says:

    I like how he pointed out the video game era where you have 1 player making 50-60pts, which the NBA is tryin’ to translate in real games to appease the young audience to keep watching.

  40. LeggoHeat says:

    PREACH! I’m a Heat fan but someone moves Lebron’s headband a bit and he’d by cryin’ and whinnin’ foul!

  41. Bill says:

    Reggie Miller said it too. You can’t touch a guy anymore without a foul called.

  42. JMaine says:

    LIke when Gary Payton played. He is the truth. I was wondering when did the 3 ball become as hyped as a dunk. There is no D in the NBA anymore because the fouls call are garbage and phantom like. Hope NBA hears what Payton is saying cuz that in the end may destroy the game.

  43. And that’s a fact. Gary is very right.

    I’ve been watching the NBA now for 26 years and can only conclude that the league was much better in the past.

    Today’s league is more about:

    1. flopping
    2. whining
    3. hyping

    Hope things do change in the future because I still love this game!


  44. hellon says:

    It’s sad,but he’s totally right….mainly the part about defense,it’s almost non-existant.,,sad,that basketball is almost as soft as soccer…touch=foul.

    • that_guy says:

      I wouldn’t say that if anything its much softer then soccer. players don’t play through anything anymore last guy that did that would be Noah last playoffs and lopez same time. made it one of if not the best playoff series.

    • Alex says:

      It is going to the same process soccer has been going through the last decade too. Soccer used to be much thougher, but the rules and refs are protecting the attacker more and more and it made the defenders powerless. Now you see players going down with the lightest touches, because why would they try to keep going off balance when they always will get the whistle if they go down. Less honourable, but more effective. It’s getting harder and harder to convince people that it actually is a mans game with all the whining and flopping and I see the same happening for basketball.

  45. ripistons says:

    He is so right about that. They don’t let you guard anyone 1 on 1 right now in the nba, you have to give the guy space and contest his shot, you can’t stop his drive, you can only foul him. That’s dumb. Payton is right that whenever someone is drivving, if you touch him, it’s a foul. It’s not fun. He’s also right about the fact that it became jacking up 3 pointers. Nba 2014 looks closer to Eurobasket than 10 years ago, 20 years ago. It’s sad honestly

    • Nick says:

      Gary certainly knows what he’s talking about. The game rules are skewed to create more offense, but it actually started before his time. I’ve been watching over 40 years. Before his time defensive players could place two hands on an offensive player outside the paint and rarely get a whistle. Point guards back in that day really had it rough! By the time Gary played the ref’s started calling fouls if one put two hands on a guard, so everyone went to one hand. One thing for sure, though, play in the paint was a lot rougher. All bets were off there. People nowadays think the play in the paint gets rough during the playoffs. Gary is right in that it was rougher than that during a routine game in his day.