Most NBA players, at least the good ones, have extreme confidence in themselves. It’s a necessity when you’re going up against some of the greatest athletes to walk the earth. Some guys have a quite confidence, while others are more than willing to tell the world just how talented they are. Jerryd Bayless falls somewhere in between. He self-assured to the extreme, but he’s not necessarily going to be in your face about it, at least off the court. On the court, he’s as brash and competitive as they come
Usually, Bayless is one of the biggest talkers in the gym. I can say that because, during a live chat on media day, Bayless freely admitted he’s got the biggest ego on the team. But on the first day of training camp, Gary Payton, a legendary NBA player and trash talker, was on hand to take in the first run of the season, assuring that, at least for the day, Bayless wouldn’t be the king of bravado in Tualatin.
As it happens, one of the reasons Payton paid a visit was to catch up with Bayless. The two have known each other for some time, forging a friendship out of mutual interest and personality. For Bayless, it’s a chance to pick the brain of one of the all-time great point guards.
“He’s a hall of famer,” said Bayless of Payton. “I don’t really know what you can do better than that. I’m just trying to learn from him, but I’m also trying to learn from Andre, trying to learn from everyone here. Just trying to get better every day.
“I think he’s one of the most competitive guards who has ever been in the league. Taking that from him and learning from him and watching film of him. Knowing him, being able to talk and have a conversation with him, learning different things is something I’ve tried to do with him.”
From Payton’s perspective, Bayless has the skills to be a star in the league, but he needs to get past worrying about making mistakes, learn to trust that his skills are enough to keep him on the floor.
“I just told him I like the aggressiveness that he’s got now,” said Payton. “Last year he was a little bit passive, thinking ‘If I take a shot I’m going to come out of the game.’ or whatever. Now that he’s shown these guys he’s coming in here and he’s aggressive. His jump shot is getting a lot better. He’s getting aggressive, more confident. I just told him that’s the way he has to do it. Don’t think about coming out of the game. If you take a shot and you miss, think about getting a steal, show coach you’re going to do other things.
“When he gets down the floor he’s really quick with the basketball. I told him that. I told him that he’s going to have to add a little bit more to his game, when he gets by guys, pull up for a jump shot. He can finish. He can do all that. Now it’s just time to refine his game, make it where he can do everything. I see he’s trying hard on the defensive end, and that’s going to take time too. Everybody got to take time. Take time to become a better basketball player. And he’s got a lot of time.”
Bayless still has a long ways to go to get to Payton’s level, which, if you’re familiar with GP’s game, is no slight to Bayless. After all, “The Glove” was one of the premier point guards of his era and one of the best defensive guards of all time. But when it comes to being competitive and confident, Payton thinks Bayless is already his peer.
Said Payton: “He’s confident. I’ve always loved that about him. When I first met him we were doing “The Best Damn Sports Show”. I asked him ‘If you were the team to pick first, who would you pick?’ and he said ‘Bayless’, just like that. I said ‘I like you already.’ because you got a lot of confidence in yourself and that’s how we became real close like we are now, talking and everything. Ever since then I knew this kid was going to be good. I loved him because of his confidence. He reminds me of myself.”