Gary Payton played for the Los Angeles Lakers for one ill-fated season between 2003 and 2004.
Although he failed to win a championship in L.A., Payton got a front row seat to the dynamics between Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal.
Because of that, Payton became uniquely qualified to speak on the reputation Bryant developed right around that time as a selfish player. A reputation, mind you, that he never truly shed.
During a recent appearance on the ‘Old Man And The Three’ podcast, Payton addressed Bryant’s reputation for being selfish head on.
“This kid was a competitor,” Payton noted.
“That’s all he was, and that’s all he wanted to do. He wanted to be great, and that’s what he became. If Kobe was selfish and all that, why would he always go to the veterans and ask them what can he do to get better? Selfish players don’t do that.”
Payton didn’t stop there, though.
“[Bryant] was a player that wanted to be better,” he continued.
“He always asked me what to do. The year he asked me how to play defense and he made the defensive team every year after that. I told him how to be that.”
Payton has never shied away from telling it how it is when it comes to Bryant. In fact, he is arguably the only legend to ever explain why veterans hated Bryant so much early in his career.
— Game 7 (@game7__) June 10, 2022
This was just par for the course.
What gems will Payton ultimately drop in future interviews?
Time will tell.
Jennifer Withers Hoey is a former Business Development Manager who transitioned to writing about sports. With valuable connections all over the West Coast, she has used those contacts to break some of the most interesting stories pertaining to the Portland Trail Blazers, Oregon Ducks, LA Lakers, LA Clippers, Seattle Supersonics (RIP), and more.