Gary Payton Interview
In the 2006 NBA Finals, the Dallas Mavericks are up 2-1 over the Miami Heat. Here's what point guard Gary Payton said after Game 3 in Miami, which the Heat won to avoid going down 0-3:
Q. Tell us about that last play that you hit, the game-winning hoop, it looked like you guys were down to the wire, scrambling a little bit and a veteran coming through.
GARY PAYTON: Well, it's just a shot. J-Will penetrated, they was rotating, I took one dribble, kept dribbling and shot the ball. You don't think about it, just go up and shoot the ball and whatever happens, happens. Fortunately it went in.
Q. Obviously you're known as one of the greatest clutch shooters of our time. Can you compare this shot before which you didn't have a single point in the game and all of those other shots that you scored for Seattle and those other big games?
GARY PAYTON: Well, you see why I don't get kind of hyper no more. It's not a hyper thing.
I mean, we've still got a lot of work to go. It's just fortunate that I made the shot and that we can win this basketball game. We've still got a lot of work to go. I'm not going to hooray and all that stuff right now. It's not the time. We saved a win, you know, not to go down 3-0, and now we've still got a lot of work to do on Thursday.
Q. You know Dwyane is going to do his thing in the fourth quarter and you're going to run through everything in a game like, this but that used to be you. So in your career, how do you stay focused when it's not you, to hit a big shot like that?
GARY PAYTON: Well, you've just got to stay ready. We know what happened. I've been playing with Dwyane for eight months now. So you know when he gets off the ball, you've got to be ready to shoot the ball. So you stay focused for it. If you're eight months into it, you've got to get yourself into the mental state of doing that. And that's what we do. With J-Will, I know when he penetrates, he's always going to be looking. So it's a little bit more, you're looking forward to getting the shot from him. D-Wade we want him to get to the basket and score. So we're looking forward to that. Me and J-Will got a nice little thing going on with each other, we look for each other and he did that for me.
Q. Talk about the difference between being 2-1, as opposed to down 3-0?
GARY PAYTON: Well, being 2-1, it's a lot different. Having one game to go and knowing that you're going to be eliminated and they'll be the champions; now we have one game to work with and we're still at home and have an opportunity to tie this series up. Being down 3-0 and having to win four straight is kind of a big task for us. Right now, going into Thursday's game and knowing we can tie the series up and change the momentum and plus going into Sunday to have a game here and try to go up, it's a big difference.
Q. How difficult is it, though, to take a shot in such a situation after not having shot the entire ballgame?
GARY PAYTON: Well, you know, for a lot of young kids, it might be difficult. But for myself, you know, I've been in the league for 16 years, so you know, I'm accustomed, or now I'm getting accustomed to it. You've just got to stay focused. My mindset was focus. You know, anything was going to happen. Especially when J-Will penetrated and all the guys was going to sink to him, you have to be ready. And that's what Pat tells us to do. He tells us be ready for anything and I was ready for the shot. Howard came and jumped and I dribbled and hit the shot.
Q. What do you tell Dwyane in the fourth when he's carrying five fouls?
GARY PAYTON: Well, I tell him don't foul each other. I tell him to foul no one. I said, "Just stay in front of him and if he beats you, then I'm going to try to help." And when the man was penetrating and I came over and help him, I always talk to him. I say, "Look, don't foul, don't foul. Just get back, x-out." And that's what we call x-out when he goes to my man. We just tell him to be cautious, don't go in there out of control so he can get an offensive foul. So we think on the defensive end, he's smart enough that he won't get a foul.
Q. I know you've been in a lot of comeback situations over the years, but realistically, the way they were shooting the ball, third quarter and the fourth quarter, how much realistically did you think there was a chance for you to come back?
GARY PAYTON: Our team, we're together. We wasn't worried about all that. Probably everybody in our stadium was thinking that we had lost this game, but you see what happened. We didn't have a lot of fourth quarter comebacks in this season, and that's what we're so accustomed to doing and we're in faith with each other. We didn't let no doubt in. When we went back to the huddle, we said, we've got a chance to get back into this game, all we've got to do is play defense. That's what we did, they missed a couple of shots, we got close, Shaq hit some free throws, Udonis hit some free throws and got a big steal, too, and we were right there and won the basketball game.
Q. How important to you personally would a title be for your career?
GARY PAYTON: Well, anybody is wanting to a win title. Anybody will say that. If I said it wasn't important to me, then I would just be lying to you.
But me being in the league this long, yeah, I would love to have a title. But if it doesn't happen, I'm always going to say I was fortunate to play in this league and have an opportunity to do the things I did. It was just I came up short not winning a championship, but if it comes, I'll be as happy as anybody would.