GP2 given Warriors ring by Draymond before game vs. Blazers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
With his Basketball Hall of Famer father watching from a courtside seat, Gary Payton II received his 2021-22 NBA championship ring in a ceremony before the Warriors’ Friday night game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
GP2 picked up his ring from former Golden State teammate Draymond Green just before tip-off between the Western Conference rivals at Chase Center.
Payton, who signed a three-year free-agent contract with the Blazers over the summer, was an integral part of the Warriors’ NBA title run last season and played his way into a deal that was too rich 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, although the Blazers have physically cleared him to return to action. Now it’s just about becoming mentally ready to play in an NBA game.
Before the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked about what it will be like to watch Payton, a favorite among his former teammates and Dub Nation, receive his first championship ring.
“It will be a great moment,” Kerr told reporters. “I thought Gary was one of the big stories from last year’s team, you know, to go from a guy who bounced around the league to, we release him before training camp, fingers crossed he clears waivers. And then to become such a key guy for us. And we don’t win the championship without him.
“So, thrilled to see Gary tonight, and we kept in touch a little bit. And I’ve always got a soft spot for him, for what he’s overcome to achieve in his career. So, great to see him tonight, and I know our crowd will give him an ovation. He was such a fan favorite.”
Green understands and appreciated the path Payton took to reach this moment, so he was excited to be the one to hand him the jewelry.
“To understand all of that and to understand GP’s journey, to see him go and get his money, but most importantly to see what he was able to contribute to a championship — I’m extremely excited and honored to be the person that’s presenting him something that will matter and that nobody can take for the rest of your life,” Green told reporters at shoot-around Friday.
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It was quick, but the ceremony was a special moment for everyone involved.
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