Greatest NBA Player #27: Gary Payton-145.53
Gary Payton isn’t called “The Glove’ for no reason and is widely viewed as one of the best defensive guards in NBA history and the first point guard to win Defensive Player of the Year. Considering he won the award in the 1990s with quite a few dominant rim protectors, it goes to show how much of a problem he was as a perimeter defender.
Payton spent his first 13 seasons of his career with the SuperSonics and formed a famous pairing with All-Star Shawn Kemp. During his time there, Payton transformed the Sonics into a title contender, winning at least 55 games in six straight seasons and at least 63 games twice in that span. Being that good in the 1990s often meant going up against Jordan and the Bulls.
Payton and the Sonics did in the 1996 NBA Finals, and while they ultimately lost, he is credited with slowing Jordan down. After being traded to Milwaukee, he entered the ring-chasing portion of his career by joining the Shaq and Kobe Lakers a season after making his last All-Star appearance.
Shaq, Kobe, Payton, and Karl Malone on the same team was a terrifying thought, but the team never fully gelled and got beat by the Pistons in the 2004 NBA Finals. He would then go to Boston before later joining the Heat. There, he played a big role in bringing the Heat their first championship before retiring.