In 2019, Gary Payton was interviewed by Fanatics View. During the interview, Payton was asked if he thought Damian Lillard was overlooked.
“He is in a market that is not high like the Lakers and Boston. I think if he were in that type of market, he would be more recognizable, and they don’t respect him. I got that same situation when I was in Seattle about the All-Star games, but now they are starting to pick him. He is showing what he can do,” said Payton. ” He is an Oakland guy and is a dude that has a lot of toughness in him, and he is showing it. He made first-team last year, second team this year, and he is going to keep doing it. He’s got that swagger and that dog in him, but he is going to keep going at people. So, I don’t think anything is underrated. I think he is in a bad market.”
I recently spoke with former NBA Allstar Cedric Ceballos if he saw any similarities in marketing between Gary Payton and Damian Lillard regarding All-Star voting and individual awards.
“I think it has anything to do with where they are. If you know basketball, you know who the Reign Man and Gary Payton are. Damian is not as loud as Gary, and he is not as flamboyant as Gary. He is a quiet player, and if you remember, Clyde Drexler played in Portland, ” said Ceballos.
“I don’t think it has to do with playing in Portland or that Washington area. It is just the personality of Damian, and he is just a quiet guy. He took the alternative route to become a superstar, while Gary was the second pick in the 1990 draft.
It was a storybook thing for Gary Payton, coming from Oregon and then going to Seattle. He took care of the Northwest and put your stamp on the region before coming to Seattle. That was a match made in heaven.”
Ceballos continued: “Meanwhile, Damian is a quiet guy from the Bay. Putting in that work and wasn’t highly recruited and then he goes to Weber State University. Somebody takes a chance on him in Portland and boom, he becomes a superstar.”
Lillard will be participating in his sixth All-Star game on Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia.