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Gary Payton on Stephen Curry’s MVP: ‘I can name a lot of guys that could have been unanimous’

Gary Payton

Gary Payton, shown in 2013, believes a number of former NBA players should have been unanimous MVPs before Stephen Curry.

(Streeter Lecka /Getty Images for Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame)

Gary Payton doesn’t think Stephen Curry should have been the first unanimous NBA MVP.

The basketball Hall of Famer said in a recent interview with Sports Illustrated and SiriusXM he believes a number of former players were worthy of all the first-place votes during their eras.

“I can name a couple guys,” Payton said. “Michael Jordan [and the Bulls] won 72 games. Why wouldn’t he be a unanimous decision? Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell — I can name a lot of guys that could have been unanimous.”

Payton added that Curry “was the first one to do it. Like I said, I commend him again and what he’s accomplished, but you gotta think about who was voting for Michael Jordan and Wilt Chamberlain and Kareem and all of them during their time. Why in the heck would they not give all their votes to them guys at that time when they’re doing it?”

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The longtime member of the Seattle SuperSonics and onetime Laker also seemed to question whether Curry should be considered this year’s most valuable player at all.

“If you look at LeBron, what he does for his team, he does everything,” Payton said. “I still think he’s the best all-around basketball player. As we say, Stephen Curry was the best player this year, but I’m saying all around — who gives you assists, who gives you rebounding, who gives you points, who does a lot of things for his team to have it?

“If you take LeBron off that team, I don’t think Cleveland is a good team like that. If you take Curry off [the Warriors], uh, right now I don’t know. They probably would win games. They wouldn’t have won 73, but they would win a lot of basketball games.”

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