On the eve of Gary Payton's enshrinement to the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame, the NBA brings us this video, the top 10 alley-oops from Payton to Shawn Kemp with the Supersonics.
• No.'s 7 and 8 are too low. Way too low. The degree of difficulty on those passes is isnane. The one-hand flip lob looks so good, is so practical, and so effective, but has such a high degree of difficulty, and both come under pressure situations.
• No. 8's reflection of Payton's handle is notable here. That's just a whirling dervish in full-court, and it shows part of what Payton was able to do. There are some great handles in today's game (CP3, Kyrie, Steph) but Payton's size and ability to just whirl through people was incredible, especially given his defense.
• This also, though, shows how used to the Heat we have gotten. Listen to the reactions on No. 9 and No. 5. When LeBron James hammers down one of those two-handed lob finishes, we barely blink anymore, yet they are just as, if not more emphatic than some of Kemp's. Don't get me wrong, I'll still put Kemp top 3 in dunkers of all time in the league. I'm just saying we've become numb to the Heat's Flying Death Machine.
• Kemp's facial expressions are sorely missed. I'm a fan of the "don't react, just run back on defense like it's no big deal while the crowd reacts" but Kemp's facial contortions were like a cross between Jack Nicholson in "The Shining" and a Juggalo.
• Andre Miller is probably the league's best current lob artist, with CP3 right behind him, but man, Payton was probably a solid step above both. (I would give CP3 the edge in the pick-and-roll lob specifically, but we're talking overall.) The pinpoint accuracy was crazy.
• For the 700,000th time, I will now shake my head sadly at what happened to Shawn Kemp's career. The man was basketball TNT.