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The Inspiring Story Of How Gary Payton II Stayed With Warriors After Being Cut From The Team

Gary Payton II

For most professional athletes, being cut from the roster marks the end of their tenure with the team. Nobody wants to play for free, after all.

For Warriors guard Gary Payton II, however, getting cut from the Warriors was really just the start of the best period of his basketball career.

In an article on The Players' Tribune, GP explained his journey and his reaction after finding out he was no longer on Golden State's active roster.

(via NBC Sports):

"At that point, I was already numb to getting that type of news,” Payton wrote in an article published by The Players Tribune on Friday. “I was always assuming the worst. It was like a protective shell I created for myself, I think, so that I didn’t get my hopes up too high about this NBA thing. But still… something about this time felt different."

After Myers broke the news to Payton II, his immediate response to the general manager turned out to be a direct reflection of his character, both on and off the court.

"This was The Bay, you know what I’m saying? And I didn’t want to just turn the page," Payton II wrote. "So I was like, F--k it. Yeah, I’m cut, but I’m gonna stay here and work out with the team, regardless."

"Ha! I didn’t even know if that was something that was allowed. But I wanted to stay on the team’s radar, to let them know this is where I wanted to be. So after Bob broke the news to me, I was like, “Umm, well, you know what though… can I still come in tomorrow? And work out with the team and just like… be around?”

Myers choosing to agree was game-changing for Payton II. 

"Bob said I could hang around, so that’s what I did," Payton II wrote. "And I remember telling my agent at the time, “Hey, if I clear waivers and anyone calls about me, tell them I’m really just interested in getting back on the Warriors first and foremost’ That was my whole vibe at the time. Somehow, I’m getting back on this team.” 

Instead of packing his things and leaving in disgrace, Payton stayed despite the bad news and made such an impression on the organization that they decided to keep him around full-time: 

“They call me into a meeting room and it’s like, ‘GP — we see you, man. You made the team. You’ve got a spot on the roster.’ I’ll never forget that moment," he said. "It felt so good."

Fast-forward a few months later, Payton II became a crucial part of the Warriors' lineup in their current postseason run. 

Today, Payton has become an important rotation player for the Warriors. Off the bench, he provides a major spark for the team as a scorer and shooter. He even made it to the starting lineup in Round 1 against Memphis before suffering a left elbow fracture.

To think that Payton's best days on the court came after being cut from the roster completely is crazy and extremely rare in today's NBA.

Nevertheless, it's another example that proves hard work, loyalty, and initiative can be enough to meet your goals.