Gary Payton II’s inspirational Warriors story on staying committed after giving up


Gary Payton II's inspirational Warriors story on staying committed after giving up

No matter what team you’re championing, it’s hard not to respect Gary Payton II’s journey through the NBA system.

The son of nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton Sr., Young Glove’s path was very different from his father’s.

But while Payton II hasn’t been able to achieve the same success as his father in the league, that hasn’t stopped him from trying.

After going undrafted in the 2016 NBA draft, Payton II joined the Houston Rockets for the summer league before being released the following month.

Over the next five years, he bounced from team to team in both the G League and the NBA.

His last place to land was at the Golden State, which initially began as a 10-day contract with the Warriors in April 2021, followed by another 10-day contract.

In May 2021, he was signed for the remainder of the season and the 2021–22 season. Finally his time had come and he was finally being given the opportunity he had so desperately craved all his life.

Until the plug was pulled.

Warriors general manager Bob Myers had to break the news to Payton II that they would be relinquishing him just before the start of the 2021-22 season.

“By that point I was already deaf to this kind of news,” Payton wrote in an article published by The Players Tribune on Friday. “I always assumed the worst. It was like a protective shell that I made for myself, I think, so I wouldn’t get my hopes up too high on this NBA thing. But still… something about that time felt different.

Sure, Payton II was cut, but that didn’t stop him from realizing the position he was in and doing whatever it took to capitalize on it.

After Myers broke the news to Payton II, it became apparent that his immediate response to the general manager reflected his character both on and off the pitch.

“That was The Bay, you know what I’m saying? And I didn’t want to just turn the page,” Payton II wrote. “So I thought, Fk it. Yes I’m cut but I’ll stay here and still train with the team.

“Ha! I didn’t even know if that was allowed. But I wanted to stay on the team’s radar to let them know I wanted to be here. After Bob broke the news to me, I was like, “Um, well, you know what, but…can I come over tomorrow? And train with the team and just like that…be there?”

That Myers agreed was groundbreaking for Payton II.

And while he wasn’t a member of the Warriors organization, his allegiance was still with Golden State.

“Bob said I could hang out, so that’s what I did,” Payton II wrote. “And I remember saying to my agent at the time, ‘Hey, if I’m clarifying waivers and someone calls about me, tell them that I’m really only interested in getting back to the Warriors first and foremost’. That was my whole vibe back then… Somehow I’m coming back to this team.”

A few days later, Payton II found himself in a room for a meeting he will likely never forget.

“They call me into a meeting room and it’s like, ‘GP – see you man. you made the team You have a spot on the list. “I’ll never forget that moment,” he said. “It felt so good.”

A few months later, Payton II became a key part of the Warriors’ lineup in their current postseason.

Payton II’s hard work and dedication earned him a starting lineup for the Warriors for Games 1 and 2 of the Western Conference Semifinals against the Memphis Grizzlies until a fracture to his left elbow dealt a heartbreaking blow to his playoff hero ambitions.

After all the adversity, Payton II was finally where he felt he belonged – on the NBA’s biggest stage – and it was taken from him in seconds.

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Still, he refuses to put his head down and will continue to do what he’s had to do his entire career: don’t give up.

“I don’t have time to think about something bad that happened or feel sorry for myself,” Payton II wrote. “I have too much to feel positive about. Honestly, even just being with the Warriors and being a part of this whole thing… I don’t take any of it for granted. I cherish every minute of it. I know how lucky I am.”

Payton II is making good progress in his recovery and will be reevaluated on May 27th in what would be after a potential Game 5 of the Western Conference finals.

It’s unclear if we’ll see Payton II back on the court this postseason, but the Warriors can certainly play through his motto after experiencing plenty of ups and downs this season but didn’t give up, picking up two wins in return of their sixth NBA Finals in eight years.

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