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DeAntae Prince: Speaking of Nate McMillan, were you happy to see him get another shot at head coaching with the Pacers? Gary Payton: “I talked to him and all I told him was that this is a different era. You have to change. We can’t keep doing the same things we did when we were coming up and how we were coached. He uses Jimmy Valvano and George Karl as his mentors of coaching, and we can’t come like them right now, or like it was in the ‘90s. It’s a different era. A lot of these owners are putting a lot of money into these players, and they think that it’s more to their advantage to put a lot of trust into the players instead of the coaches. That said, he’s got an opportunity, I’m glad that he got an opportunity because he’s a great coach. I think that he’s got a good team in Indiana, a good boss in Indiana, who understands what kind of coaching needs to be done because he’s from our era. He’s got Paul George as a star right now. I think he’s going to adjust really well.”
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DeAntae Prince: There have been a lot comparisons between the 72-win Bulls team you played against and this year’s 73-9 Warriors squad. How do you think the Warriors would stack up? Gary Payton: “I don’t compare them and I don’t want to compare them. They’re two different animals. The Bulls did it with a physical type of basketball, we could hand check, we could do a lot of things. It was just a different era. They come back 20 years later and go 73-9. I couldn’t compare them, because if we put Golden State in that era a lot of teams, to me, would give them problems. Because we were more physical, we put our hands on them. A lot of our teams in this era we probably would have fouled out, we probably would have had a lot of problems.”
DeAntae Prince: It’s been 20 years since your Sonics team made a run to the NBA Finals. How fondly do you look back on that time and what memories come back when you think about that team? Gary Payton: “We had a lot of fun that year. We were shooting the lights out of the basketball, we set records for shooting at that time. We were a great defensive team. A lot of guys on that team and we had a lot of role players. People forget we won like 64 games, and we were rolling, too. People forget too that we beat Chicago in that year. We split home and home. We had fun doing it. I think if Nate McMillan didn’t get hurt we had a good chance of doing it. I think if I started on Michael Jordan first we would have been OK. But we can’t look back at that. I just look at the fact that we had an opportunity to do it. We didn’t start playing until Game 4. We won two by 20 or more points. By that time it was too late. I wish we could have kept that team together.”
Yesterday, KJR’s Dave “Softy” Mahler had a pair of Sonics legends on his radio show and they each had interesting comments about the future of the NBA in Seattle. In hour one, Softy spoke to Spencer Haywood about his upcoming documentary “Full Court.” Spencer had some interesting comments that came from a place not of speculation, but straight from the mouth of the NBA Commissioner. According to Spencer, Adam Silver told him… “Will you help the people in Seattle understand that we want to make amends? We want a team back in Seattle immediately.”
Storyline: Seattle Team?
In the third hour, Softy brought on former Sonic and new Indiana Pacers head coach Nate McMillan. Mac 10 told the fans to keep the faith because the NBA is noticing. “I would say to all the fans continue to do what you’re doing, the NBA, they recognize that. They recognize that it is a great city and I think the next team that comes available will end up in Seattle.” “That city deserves it. It’s a great sports town.”