a man who ranks 21st all time in points, sixth in assists, third in steals and eighth in games played should have been.Gary Dwayne Payton. (Check out his legitimately insane line from 1999-2000 when at age 31 he averaged 24 points, 9 assists, 6.5 boards and 2 steals per). Well according to the above linked article, the Glove is done. I fully agree with the notion that Payton is massively underrated, in large part because a great deal of his national exposure came in his last few years when he went ring hunting in Los Angeles and Miami, by which time his calling cards of lock-down D (hence the nickname, one of the better sobriquets in recent NBA memory alongside The Answer and The Matrix. And Hot Plate John Williams).
I probably saw more of Payton growing up then any other star, given that the local cable company carried the Seattle Fox Sports Net channel, which meant I got to see the most electrifying two man act of the early-to-mid 90s on a nightly basis:
(Incidentally holy crap, Seattle Shawn Kemp...)
And while so much attention was (legitimately) focused on Kemp, Payton was the one who made that team go. In much the same way that Amare Stoudamire is a guy who if you get him the ball in a spot to score, he will do so, Kemp wasn't really a guy you could just throw the ball and say "get me a bucket". Payton was that guy, even with his lack of real hops and herky-jerky setshot.
He was also, legendarily, one of the best trash-talkers of all time. I've always had a soft spot for the guy who tells you how he's going to beat you, does it, and then recounts it back to you again on the way back down the court.
So, happy trails GP.
On a personal note, I'm beginning to feel really, really old now that all the players I grew up on are retiring...