SAN FRANCISCO -- Several rows above floor level and about 25 feet behind the home-team bench, the Original Glove settled into a seat next to Warriors team president Bob Myers and tried to keep his joy contained within his heart.
For when the Original Glove, Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton, can spend a Sunday evening watching Young Glove, Gary Payton II, there is no way to deny the emotions.
“I’m so proud of what he’s doing,” the OG said of the YG. “It’s been six years.”
Actually, GP2 signed his first NBA contract in September 2016 – five years and two months ago – but forgive a father if 62 months feel like 72 months when the career of his son is on the line.
After signing contracts with five different NBA teams and enduring multiple G League assignments, YG, aka GP2, seems to have found a place. From the Houston Rockets to the Milwaukee Bucks to the Los Angeles Lakers to the Portland Trail Blazers to the Washington Wizards to, at last, the Warriors.
“I’m happy that it’s in the Bay Area, it’s with a good Golden State team and they really found a place for him,” GP1 said. “They gave him the opportunity he needed. Those other teams wouldn’t let him play this way.
“I’m so satisfied with it. I knew he could do these things. I knew he could play in the league. He just had to have the right opportunity, and now he does.”
GP2’s journey with the Warriors is its own odyssey. Signed one 10-day contract last April 8. Signed another on April 19. Waived on Oct. 16. Re-signed on Oct. 19, hours before the Warriors opened the season against the Lakers in Los Angeles.
Not even three weeks later, GP2 has played his way into the rotation. He was the second player and first guard off the bench Sunday, when the Warriors posted a 120-107 victory over the Rockets. He contributed 10 points, three assists and four steals.
It’s the steals that are becoming synonymous with GP2. Defense is as much his identity as it was his father’s, who played in nine All-Star games during his 17-year NBA career. It’s in the genes.
“He was around me a lot and he watched what I was doing,” GP1 said. “He just has a knack for it, with his long arms, good hands and feet. I used to tell him all the time that if you have good hands and feet, [you] can be a good defender. He moves well, and he’s very active.”
The elder Payton, who is the first head coach at Lincoln University in Oakland, took no credit for GP2’s incredible leaping ability. At 6-foot-1, GP2 is three inches shorter than his father but has enough bounce to be one of Golden State’s primary lob threats.
“He’s just athletic, man,” GP1 said, his grin turning to laughter. “I was wondering if the mailman came around when I was out of town. Wherever athletic ability came from, I’m just happy he got it.”