As his Basketball Hall of Fame inductee father watches from his courtside seat, Gary Payton II recognizes the 2021-22 NBA champions at a ceremony ahead of the Warriors’ Friday night game against the Portland Trail Blazers. I received my ship ring.
GP2 received a ring from former Golden State teammate Draymond Green just before tip-off between Western Conference rivals at Chase Center.
Payton, who signed a three-year free agency deal with the Blazers over the summer, was crucial to the Warriors’ NBA title win last season, and a deal too expensive for Golden State to match.
The 30-year-old guard has yet to play this season as he recovers from surgery for a core injury, but the Blazers have physically allowed him to return to action. It’s about being mentally prepared to play in an NBA game.
Before the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked what it would be like to see Payton, a favorite among former teammates and Dub Nation, receive his first championship ring.
“It’s going to be a great moment,” Kerr told reporters. “I thought Gary was one of the team’s big stories last year. From a guy who flew around the league, getting him out before training camp, crossing his fingers and clearing waivers. And that sort of thing.” He’s the key. You can’t win a championship without him.
“So I’m thrilled to meet Gary tonight and we’ve been in touch a bit. And because of what he’s overcome to achieve in his career, I’ve always had a crush on his soft spot.” So happy to see him tonight. I know our audience will applaud him. He was such a fan favorite.
Green understood and appreciated the journey Peyton took to get to this moment, so he was thrilled to give him the jewelry.
“To understand all of that, to understand the GP journey, to see him go and make money and most importantly to see what he was able to contribute to the championship. It’s something that no one else can take for the rest of your life,” Greene told reporters at a shootaround on Friday.
RELATED: GP2 Journey From ‘Disappointing Ass’ Basketball Player To NBA Champion
It went by in a flash, but the ceremony was a special moment for everyone involved.
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