The Glove Ain't Got the Love
The hottest commodity for NBA teams making a playoff push down the stretch is no longer Karl Malone. It is not even Alonzo Mourning. And more generally, it is not a point-guard-who-can-distribute, a big-man-to-battle-with-Shaq/Yao/Z/Ben, and it is not a 3-point-shooting-beneficiary-of-double-teams. It is Gary Payton.
In a mere two years, Payton has been done dirty by THREE separate franchises—Seattle, Los Angeles, and Boston—franchises that span the continuum of ethical histories. And when it was all said and done, they left him with wounded pride, a non-refundable plane ticket to Atlanta that won’t be used any time soon, and a Bruno Sundov-sized chip on his shoulder.
But your boy doesn’t get knocked down so easily. He’s been knocked down before, and he doesn’t stay down for very long. What was that rumbling that Tony Parker heard under his bed last night? It was the sound of a thrice-bitten Gary Payton, and he’s coming to bite your fucking ear off, Tony.
Oh sure, I’ve heard that chatter. Gary’s out of gas. Gary’s D, physical state, his shot, his ability to get to the rim, and his attitude are ALL on the decline. But you can’t tell me that Gary doesn’t have 50 more championship-withdrawal-fueled games in him to catapult any good team into a great team and any great team into contender status.
If the NBA gods truly love basketball and love Gary, they will place him on the Suns, where he will defeat the Spurs in the Western Conference finals, after Nash goes down from pulling a hamstring. If the NBA gods have a sense of humor and love Gary, they will place him on the Timberwolves, where he, Sam Cassell, and Latrell Sprewell will turn Sunday afternoon games into R-Rated Pryor-esque gripe-fests; and then Gary will push the Wolves into the 8th seed, where they will defeat the Spurs as well. And if the NBA gods enjoy irony, they will place him back in Seattle, where he will single-handedly destroy the chemistry of the happiest team in the land.
All I know is, that championship trophy better rock-proof her windows for one more Spring.