Gary Payton was never afraid to take the game to anybody on the court during his illustrious 17-year career, and lately, he certainly hasn't been afraid to speak his mind off of it.
Recently The Glove insisted Curry should not have been the first ever unanimous MVP in the NBA. It's not so much about Curry's ability or his achievements, Payton is actually quite complimentary in those areas.
He takes exception with the notion that Curry is in a class above Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul Jabbar because of this accolade.
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The former Seattle Supersonics stalwart thinks it was a different era back in his day, when players really did carry around bitter rivalries and they wouldn't vote for each other out of principle.
Payton also recently targeted another Golden State Warriors man in Draymond Green, too. The former point guard believed that Green moans to officials far too often during games and that's something he never did during his playing days.
Although the 47-year-old has a lot of detrimental things to say about the reigning NBA champions, interestingly enough, he has some nice words for a player representing their playoff opponents, the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Payton, himself an NBA champion with the Miami Heat in 2006, sees a lot of the same fire in Russell Westbrook that he used to bring to the court. Speaking to Sports Illustrated, Payton detailed the similarities in their games.
"With Westbrook and myself, I can see the dog that he has in him. He’s got that fire that he won’t back down from anybody. His game is a little different than mine because he’s a fast, get to the bucket type of player, finishing above the rim and things like that. The shot was about the same. We got confidence in our shot. I don’t think he’s a great shooter. I think he’s a streaky shooter. He got a lot of confidence when he shoots the basketball that he’s going to make it."
It's fair to say Westbrook isn't a laser shooter like Curry, but his all-round game is arguably the best in the league at the one spot. As a top-tier rebounder and dime-dropper, Westbrook continues to top the triple-double charts. He racked up 18 in the regular season and recorded his fifth ever in the postseason during this series with the Warriors.
Payton has taken notice of the growth in the point guard's game.
"Other than that, rebounding and assisting, he’s starting to do that very well with the triple doubles. I like him because he acts just like me on the court, doesn’t back down, goes at whoever he needs to go at. That’s what I liked about him."
Westbrook will have the chance to knock Curry and the Warriors out of the playoffs tonight at the Oracle Arena in game five of their West Conference Finals series.