If I would’ve had an opportunity to pick my four, I would’ve had to go with John Stockton, Karl Malone, Shaquille (O’Neal) and I’d probably try to get Allen Iverson. —Gary Payton
SALT LAKE CITY — If Gary Payton had his way in an All-Star Game redo, Utah Jazz fans would find themselves in a position that never happened — or rarely did — during his career.
They'd actually cheer for The Glove — a star player Jazz fans loved to hate because of his trash-talking and rivalry with Utah back in the day.
And they'd certainly root for his teammates, one of whom Payton used to love to tease.
In an entertaining Q&A, SLAM Magazine, a popular basketball publication, asked Payton for his thoughts on the NBA's decision to allow the top two All-Star vote-getters to select their own squads instead of pitting the Western and Eastern conference teams against each other.
For starters, the Hall of Fame point guard likes the change, which will take place during All-Star Weekend next month at Staples Center. He approves of the playground-like matchup, especially with it being in L.A.
Interestingly, Payton said he wouldn't pick Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson, the two biggest stars of his era, if he were a team captain.
"I want to play against those guys," the former Seattle SuperSonics star said. "It makes the game better when you don’t stay with the guys that are good as you are and it’s not an even game."
In that light, this might be a backhanded compliment, but Payton — whose son Gary Payton III played at SLCC — said he would pick Utah's favorite pick-and-roll partners.
Payton also shared a funny story about a prank he used to pull on Malone during All-Star practices.
"We used to always crack on each other and that was a big thing about me. I’m going in there imitating Karl Malone," Payton recalled. "He always used to wear jeans and cowboy boots, and when he went out there to practice, I put on his cowboy boots and his jeans; and they were big and would yell, ‘Rhinestone Cowboy.’ I used to always do that to him every time.
"I had his belt, everything, and then I put some tobacco in my mouth. We used to do all kinds of stuff, so it was real, real fun."