It’s been a busy time for retired Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton, who may be 53 but remains about as active as he was during his playing days. He took a job coaching a small school in his hometown of Oakland, Lincoln University, and has continued to be active in the business community, where he runs a three-year-old marijuana business, CannaSport, along with gigs running phone and radio companies.
Oh, and he remains an avid NBA fan, especially of the Warriors, the team for whom his son, Gary Payton II plays. Golden State is preparing for its postseason series against the Nuggets, which may or may not include the injured Stephen Curry (foot), at least to open the matchup.
“The only thing there’s a problem with for the Warriors is getting the stars back on and getting in basketball condition,” Payton said. “Curry has missed 12 games and it is going to be hard to come back in the playoffs and try to figure it out. But I hope that he can do it. And the others, I hope that they all will be ready.”
But the business side of his life has been equally on Payton’s mind. He noted that the companies he has been involved with have all been hurt by the pandemic, and pointed out that he is fortunate to have enough cash on hand to keep his endeavors afloat during what has been a rough time for small business. He knows most businesses do not have that luxury. With that in mind, he said, he has partnered with the NBA and Hennessy’s to give grants around the country to struggling minority-owned businesses.
“You know, I am excited because, what we’re trying to do is get small businesses with Black, Latino and Asian American owners back up on their feet, that’s what we are trying to do,” Payton said. “They’ve been doing it since 2020. They gave $5 million and now we’re coming right back and with the NBA, we’re giving $2.5 million in small community loans, and it’s good for them. The pandemic came, we didn’t expect that. No one did.
“So, all these small businesses, who put all their money into this, and they’re still boarded up. I walk through downtown Oakland, California and I see businesses, they’re still boarded up. So, we’re trying to get people back on their feet. That’s what we’re going to do. They wanted me to do this because they know, I am someone who is doing this for his community all the time, that’s my stuff.”
College Job, George Karl All Part Of Gary Payton’s 2022
Payton certainly did not need to get involved with coaching at Lincoln, either, given that it is a tiny downtown school of about 500 students. He sees that as a way to help out the East Bay community, though, even if it is not always an easy gig.
“It’s a new generation,” he said, laughing. “A lot of young guys come in and they think they’re privileged. So, you’ve got to stick with it and try to deal with it, and that’s what I try to do.”
Fortunately, the “Gary Payton” name goes a long way among Lincoln players. Or, at least, among their parents.
“That’s where I get players, that is where I get them to play for me,” Payton said. “The parents are the main key. You want to play, play for Gary Payton, that’s the big deal about it. For the parents, at least. I am really good with that. Then when I get them, they just want to learn to play basketball the right way, and that’s good for me, and good for them.”
Payton also had the pleasure this year of serving as a voter for the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame inductions, and did not hesitate when his old coach, George Karl, was on the ballot. Payton and Karl had some battles during their time together in Seattle, and briefly in Milwaukee, but emerged with a tight friendship nonetheless.
“I voted for my vote for my coach, I’m just very happy, he deserved it, his numbers say he deserved it,” Payton said. “You deserve everything he did. He’s the one who started me off, he got my second father, Tim Grgurich, into my life, made me better. George made me a better basketball player, we won a lot of games in eight years. He made me the basketball player I was. which into my life making better. Me Sean better. made me a better basketball player. I am very happy for him, he deserves it.”
When Karl is inducted into the Hall this summer, Payton will be there. All part of a busy year.