There have already been a handful of devastating slam dunks early in the NBA’s 2021 Summer League, but perhaps none as nasty as the one belonging to Gary Payton II, a reserve guard with the Golden State Warriors.
Son of Hall-of-Fame point guard and NBA champion Gary Payton, ‘The Glove’ Jr. channeled the nastiness for which his father was known on Wednesday, August 11 in a Summer League game against the Toronto Raptors.
Up 83-77 with just under two minutes to play in the final quarter, Payton blew past his defender on the perimeter and did not stop until he had thoroughly punished the hoop with a vicious dunk that sounded at least as catastrophic as it looked.
The NBA tweeted video of the bucket on the league’s official Twitter account soon after it happened, sparking widespread reaction.
LA Lakers LeBron James Pays Public Respect to Payton II’s Dunk
The entire internet exploded in the aftermath of Payton’s dunk detonation Wednesday night, but perhaps the most famous to pay homage was LeBron James, of the Los Angeles Lakers, who knows a thing or two about throwing it down.
Video of Payton began circulating online almost immediately following the dunk, and it was not long before James chimed in on Twitter, calling the sequence “NASTY!”
For a slightly older generation of NBA fans, watching Payton’s play and reading James’ reaction to it made it impossible not to recall a similarly vicious slam from James’ first stint in Cleveland.
The scene was Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2008. The Cleveland Cavaliers, led by a young James, were battling Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen of the Boston Celtics at the birth of the league’s Big 3 movement.
It was late in the fourth quarter when James stuttered, accelerated to his right, exploded off the floor and nearly tore the rim off the basket, while simultaneously blowing the roof off his hometown arena.
As the crowd erupted, TNT announcer Kevin Harlan uttered eight words that are still played and referenced over and again on broadcasts and in highlight reels 13 years later.
“LeBron James with no regard for human life!” Harlan belted out over the microphone.
The Celtics would go on to win the series, and the NBA Finals, but James’ dunk continues to live in history as one of the most powerful and emphatic slams ever seen in a playoff game.
Payton Playing for Warriors Contract
While Payton’s dunk isn’t likely to have the same legs that James’ did, based on both game context and each player’s name recognition, it may persist long enough in the minds of Golden State’s decision makers to impact the point guard’s immediate future with the team.
Anthony Slater, of The Athletic, spoke to the contract situation between the Warriors and Payton via Twitter on Wednesday.
“Gary Payton II said his contract guarantee has been pushed back to the start of the season, and he is confident the Warriors will give him a legit shot to win a roster spot in training camp,” Slater tweeted. “They could use his ball pressure defense/versatility.”
Payton played in 10 regular season games for Golden State last season. He averaged just 2.5 points per game and 1.1 rebounds, though he also notched 0.6 steals per outing playing just 4 minutes per night, per Basketball Reference.
During the season prior, the point guard played in 29 games for the Washington Wizards, starting 19 of those.
Payton proved he could be a contributor on both side of the ball at the NBA level, finishing his stint in Washington with averages of 3.9 points per game, as well as 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals in just under 15 minutes of playing time per night.