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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, August 31, 2000


Olympic Rings

Payton named
U.S. tri-captain

Mourning and Kidd are also
picked to provide basketball
team leadership

By Chris Sheridan
Associated Press

LAHAINA -- Gary Payton now has another title besides Biggest Mouth on the U.S. men's basketball team. He is a captain, along with Alonzo Mourning and Jason Kidd.

"I asked them to vote for two guys who they thought can lead us as a team, and we wound up with three, which I thought was fair," head coach Rudy Tomjanovich said.

Payton will perform as a tri-captain for the first time today when the U.S team plays at the Stan Sheriff Center beginning at 4 p.m.

Payton has been trash-talking nonstop during training camp, whether in scrimmages, after practice or on the team bus. No one is immune and no topic is off-limits.

In scrimmages this week against the U.S. Select Team, composed of many of the nation's top collegians, those youngsters got their first taste of what it's like to be on the receiving end of one of Payton's diatribes.

His mouth moving at hyperspeed, Payton was at his trash-talking best during Monday's scrimmages at the sauna-like Lahaina Civic Center as the Olympic team crushed the Select Team four straight times.

The jibes were relentless, accompanied by Payton's uniquely dismissive facial expressions, whether he was on the court or cheering from the bench. Many were directed at guards Jason Williams of Duke, Jamal Tinsley of Iowa State and Jason Richardson of Michigan State, and they had everybody -- from coaches to team trainers to USA Basketball officials to security guards -- in stitches.

"I'll talk about anybody's mother, anything. I cuss a lot," Payton said. "They started listening to me, then it started blowing up. They missed shots, took shots they weren't supposed to that let us get off to a fast break.

"That's what you want -- you want them to listen to it and try to take shots they're not supposed to because they're trying to prove to me that they can shut me up."

No one ever succeeded in quieting Payton, who didn't let up after the scrimmages ended.

Sitting in the bleachers and feeling bold as ever, Payton called Tinsley over and asked him when he was coming to the NBA, then promised to talk even more smack while scoring 30 against him when that day finally arrives.

"They're from the States, we have big fun with them," he said. "We're not going to talk like that in Sydney. We've been having three or four hard practices, and when I start talking like this, it gets everybody juiced and hyper. It puts a little more fun in the game and takes some of the tension off."

Payton is widely considered the NBA's biggest trash-talker, and it's tolerated and even admired because Payton has the talent to back it up. He had the highest-scoring season of his career in 1999-00, averaging 24.2 points for Seattle.

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