Jason Kidd admits Gary Payton’s defense made him cry as a kid
Dallas Mavericks legend Jason Kidd has been proven battle-tested throughout a 19-year career in the league, but even the former champion with the Mavs admits to nearly surrendering to Gary Payton’s suffocating defense.
Both Bay Area natives, Kidd had run into Payton, a somewhat unheralded up-and-coming player that was five years his elder, but without Kidd’s playmaking gifts, looking to prove he had what it took to stop Kidd, the talk of The Town.
“Oh, there were tears,” Kidd told ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk. “My parents would ask me, ‘What’s wrong?’ I would be like, I think I should pick a different sport because I am not very good at it. He wouldn’t let me score. [And] he would tell me you are not going to score… that I was soft and that I wasn’t good enough. And for a kid in high school that was built up to be this great high school player, it was very humbling and hard to swallow.
“So, it was borderline quit or man up and keep coming back to try to figure out a way to score.”
While Kidd had the flair and pizzazz, Payton was the polar opposite — he took pride in the grime and the elbow grease, making Kidd work for every space on the court with a tenacious defensive stance and brutal trash-talk.
Kidd starred at Cal Berkeley before becoming the second overall pick by the Mavs in 1994, struggling to find the right fit there and finally blooming into his All-Star self in Phoenix during his third season in the league. By the 1996-97 season, Kidd and Payton shared some common factors — both named to the Western Conference All-Star team together for the first time.