Wizards

Wizards

WASHINGTON -- When asked what came to mind when looking back at going up against Gary Payton Sr. in his playing days, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks mentioned his longstanding reputation as one of the best talkers in league history.

"He talked trash, but could back it up," Brooks said.

Now Brooks is coaching Payton's son, Gary Payton II. The younger Payton is about the same size as his father, plays the same position and wears No. 20, but says he did not get the trash-talking gene.

"I'm more chill," Payton II told NBC Sports Washington. 

Payton II, 27, remembers watching his father play as a kid and not understanding why he was always talking to opponents. Payton would be constantly chirping at other players and it wasn't until Payton II got older that he realized exactly why his strategy of intimidation was effective.

"As I got older, I understood. He is what he is and guys respect him for it," Payton II said.

Payton II is now in his fourth NBA season and he believes the current era features far less talking on the court than when his father was at his peak in the 1990s. The game is now faster and the pace limits the opportunities to talk while the action is underway.

"They would trash-talk and play. A lot of guys can't trash-talk and play at the same time. It's a little different," Payton II said.

Since he isn't a major trash-talker himself, Payton II doesn't necessarily wish that part of the game was still around. But he does envy one major element of 1990s basketball.

 

His father is arguably the best defensive point guard of all-time and he played a physical perimeter game. Back then, more contact was allowed. You could hand-check players and alter their path off the dribble.

"It would be wonderful. It would be so good," Payton II said with a big smile.

"The game has really changed from my dad's days. I wish they would let us fight and bump and hit like they did back in the day. It would be a lot more fun. It would be great. I think I would probably lead the league in steals."

Payton II has no choice but to play by today's rules and he's doing his best to find staying power in the league. He joined the Wizards last week by way of the hardship exception because the team has so many injuries.

He was with the Wizards last season on a 10-day contract and this year was previously playing in the G-League for the South Bay Lakers. He has played for four G-League teams and three different teams at the NBA level.

The now-Wizards point guard just wants to find a long-term home and is hoping Washington can be the place. Last year, when he was on a 10-day deal, they only shared basic concepts of the playbook with him. This time, they gave him a bigger deck of plays to learn.

Maybe it's a sign they plan on keeping him around for at least a little while longer.

"I'm just trying to find somewhere to stick. I've been through [a lot]," he said.

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