Sunday , Nov , 18 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Oakland’s All-Time Greatest Point Guard: Gary Payton or Jason Kidd?

Oakland, like New York, has a history of breeding point guards. In fact, they’ve produced two all-time greats: Payton and Jason Kidd. And basketball fans have spent hours debating between Payton’s defense and Kidd’s passing. Now it’s your turn. Who’s best: G.P. or J-Kidd? …

I was raised on Gary Payton posting smaller guards, intimidating opponents through his defense, and talking smack whenever possible. 

During his prime, Payton was The Man. Quite simply, the best defensive point guard of all-time. On offense, GP combined the best of both worlds; he could score and set-the-table for others.

ESPN is reporting that The Glove has pretty much retired. There is nothing left to accomplish; next stop the basketball Hall of Fame.

Instead of figuring out Payton’s place on the list of all-time greats, HoopsVibe opted for a hometown comparison.

Oakland, like New York, has a history of breeding point guards. In fact, they’ve produced two all-time greats: Payton and Jason Kidd. And basketball fans have spent hours debating between Payton’s defense and Kidd’s passing.

Now it’s your turn. Who’s best: G.P. or J-Kidd? Read the post, make your decision, and get at us in the comment box with your thoughts.

The Argument For Payton:

  • Payton had a unique skill-set. He could take any point guard down-low, spread the floor with his mid-range jumper, set-up teammates, and dominate on defense. Few point guards ever possessed such a complete game.
  • Payton has been slept-on. His Sonics fought through the ultra-competitive Western Conference to qualify for the NBA Finals during the Michael Jordan era. And the green-and-gold pushed the Bulls to six games. In 2006, Payton won an NBA Title as a back-up for Miami.
  • The numbers: All-NBA First Team in 1998 and 2000, All-NBA Second Team in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1999, All-NBA Third Team in 2001 … All-NBA Defensive Team 1994-2001, NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1996 … career averages of 16 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals …nine time All-Star.

The Argument Against Payton:

  • Payton, fair or not, earned a reputation for causing trouble. As a rookie, he alienated Michael Jordan and even got into a nasty dispute with former Seattle owner Howard Schultz.
  • Payton pimped himself out towards the end of his career, playing for several sub-par teams before landing with the Heat.

The Argument For Kidd:

  • Kidd is a classic, pass-first point guard similar to Magic Johnson. He involves teammates and makes those around him better. Kidd is also the greatest rebounding point guard of all-time; helping him stack triple-doubles like Oscar Robertson.
  • In 2001, Phoenix traded Kidd to New Jersey for Stephon Marbury. Talk about lopsided. With J-Kidd running the offense, the Nets qualified for two NBA Finals, while the Suns sank with Starbury.
  • The numbers: All-NBA First Team in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2004, All-Second Team in 2003 … All-NBA Defensive Team in 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2006, All-NBA Second Defensive Team in 2000, 2003, 2004, and 2005 … career averages of 14 points, 9 assists, and 7 rebounds … 5th all-time in career assists.

The Argument Against Kidd:

  • Kidd struggles with his outside shot. Opposing defenses often invite him to fire away from the outside.
  • Kidd has had his share of off-court problems. In Dallas, there was the Tony Braxton thing. In Phoenix and New Jersey, he’s had some unfortunate incidents with his wife. With the Nets, he also tried playing GM, forcing the club to sign Alonzo Mourning to a disgusting contract.

The Verdict: Payton by a whisker.

Why: I love both players. Their individual accolades even out and you can disregard Payton’s 2006 NBA Title because he was a reserve.

Here’s the difference: Payton’s Sonics pushed the amazing Chicago Bulls in the 1995-96 NBA Finals, competing against one of the all-time great teams. His own Seattle squad could be the best NBA team never to win a championship.

New Jersey had a good run, but only advanced to the NBA Finals because the east was watered-down. After all, the Lakers swept Kidd’s Nets in the 2001-02 Finals and the Spurs easily won the 2002-03 championship series in six games.

So Payton edges out Kidd because of his team’s success in the NBA Finals. Of course, I admire Kidd’s game and the verdict could be different once he retires.

Who is better Payton or Kidd? Get at us in the comment box below with your thoughts.

Click here to read and subscribe to Oly Sandor’s NBA Blog.