Two decades after their ‘toothpaste incident,’ Gary Payton and Jim Moore finally make amends
When Gary Payton starred for the Seattle SuperSonics, the hall-of-fame point guard didn’t always get along with then-Seattle PI reporter Jim Moore. In fact, their relationship was so contentious at times that they nearly came to blows prior to a playoff game in Sacramento, an incident that Moore detailed in his farewell column for the paper.
The two made amends on Wednesday.
The reconciliation happened during Payton’s conversation with “Danny, Dave and Moore,” which touched on a variety of topics, including The Glove’s take on renovating KeyArena to being a coach in a new old-timers’ league to watching his son play for the Milwaukee Bucks.
That’s when 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny O’Neil brought up the elephant in the room, asking Payton what advice he’d give Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman about dealing with his frustrations toward Moore. (Sherman, of course, threatened to ruin Moore’s career following a press conference last season).
This was Payton’s response:
“Me and Jim had our problems, and he knows that. And he got to me because he is a writer, and that’s what writers do, you know what I’m saying? We have to think about it. When we’re young like that and we think about it, we always don’t want to hear nothing negative about ourselves; we always want to hear something good. But that’s his job. That’s Jim’s job, to report and sell newspapers and have people listen to him and be on the controversy thing.
“Richard has to understand that and take it in stride. You’ve got to joke back with Jim. If I knew then what I know now, I would have joked back with him and made fun with him, and made it a scene between the both of us and go back and forth, and make it better like that, instead of being upset all the time. Don’t shy away from him. You can’t shy away from Jim. Go back at him, talk to him … because it makes it even worse when you don’t even talk, because then he’s got more to talk about and Richard has to understand that …
“All reporters don’t like you. Doesn’t matter what it is, they’re not gonna like you. They gonna be against you sometimes; they gonna be for you. When they say, ‘off the record,’ they’re lying. I don’t care what nobody say. It’s like, he has to be jokeful with it … Talk to him. Make it a joke. That’s why I like Marshawn Lynch a lot, because he made it always a joke between everybody and they thought he was an ass, but he wasn’t. He just made it fun for hisself to withstand the media and they didn’t like it. And you see what happens. He’s still doing his thing and he’s still the popular person and he made a big thing out of it, and got popular by doing that to the media.”
Moore then brought up the altercation before the Kings game – “the toothpaste incident,” as he’s referred to it – telling Payton, “I probably had it coming, and so I’m glad you didn’t give it to me.”
“You know, Jim, it’s not about that,” Payton replied. “Like I said, you’re doing your job, and it is what it is. You can’t blow up and make it even worse, and if that would have happened, it would have been just more controversy and more trouble. Like right now, me and you are OK and great. I can get on the show and talk to you like this, but that was in the day. That’s what you do. That’s your job and we got to understand that. So it was all fun with me. It was fun. You got under my brother and all them’s skin. You got under my skin sometimes, but … it was a pleasure always. If you wasn’t there, things wouldn’t have been the same. That’s all I can say.”
Moore: “I respected the heck out of you, Gary. I don’t know if I ever told you that or not but just to be court-side and watch you through most of your career, it was really a pleasure. I’ve never seen anybody play the way you do, and to be in the NBA Hall of Fame and the years that you played here for the Sonics, it was something that I dreamed about growing up that I wanted to cover the Sonics and work at the PI, and I was able to do that and watch you every night. I really enjoyed it, so thank you.”
Payton, a legendary trash talker, couldn’t resist taking one last jab at Moore:
“Jim did the right thing. He knew he had to write because his talent wasn’t that good.”
Other highlights from the conversation:
On coaching, rather than playing in Ice Cube’s Big3 basketball league: “I don’t need to play. I’m going on 50 years old. Basketball is over for me; I’m in a different chapter now. I’m more of a corporate (person). I want to get basketball back in Seattle. I want to be a corporate person with that.”
On his area arena site preference: “Even if they renovate KeyArena, they gotta blow the whole KeyArena up and make it bigger and make it suitable for the NBA. If we go around to a lot of the arenas now, these arenas are very extravagant and they’ve got a lot of good suites, and it makes it attractive to other people so we can come here and have an All-Star game … It’s got to be an arena that’s gonna attract people and that’s what we need. And that’s what the NBA wants. And if it attracts people, then we can get NHL hockey in here. You could probably move the Sounders into indoors or something like that. We can do anything. Make it a good arena that’s gonna benefit from everything. We’ve just got to work on that first, and I think, no, it shouldn’t be outside of Seattle. It should be right in Seattle.”
On not letting his jersey be retired in Oklahoma City: “It’s nothing against them. Seattle fans deserve … that they can come to a game and see that my jersey is raised … We don’t know what’ll happen. I hope that Seattle, our team gets back very, very soon. In 20 and 30 years or whatever happens, I don’t know what’ll happen. If I’m not here and my family wants to decide to go in Oklahoma if we don’t have a (team), that’s on them. Right now, I think Seattle is the place where I should hang my jersey up.”
On the 95-96 Sonics vs. 2016-17 Warriors: Here is how Payton set up the matchups: Shawn Kemp against Draymond Green; Detlef Schrempf on Kevin Durant; himself on Steph Curry; and Hersey Hawkins or Nate McMillan on Klay Thompson. “We’d have had a great matchup. It would have been something to see. But … we play different. We switched everything, we played defense, we was rough, we came back, we shot the ball very well. We shot a lot of threes, too, but we did pound it inside. I don’t think nobody could have handled Shawn inside (from) their team right now.”
On watching Gary Payton II: “It feels good but sometimes you get into a mode where you feel like he should be playing like you, and you’ve got to get out of that, because he’s not gonna play like you … I just want to watch him grow and grow, and I hope that he can get to a level where he becomes an All-Star and he becomes one of the dominant basketball players. This is his first year and I think he’s gonna learn, and he’s gonna learn more. But the best thing about it is he’s under a person that I groomed in Jason Kidd, and a staff that I’ve been around all my life.”