MANILA, Philippines—The question put Gary Payton in a spot and he tried to wiggle out of it the best he could.
If Payton, who is friends with both Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, were to pick between those two fighters in a bout, who would he choose?
“It’s one of those things that I don’t want to (answer), but I’ll sit there and just close my eyes and hope nobody gets knocked out,” said the NBA legend.
Payton recently arrived in Manila along with former NBA stars Chris Webber, Glen Rice and Mitch Richmond for Wednesday’s NBA Cares Basketball Clinic and for the NBA Asia Challenge 2010 at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Araneta Coliseum.
“We like what we’re doing here,” said the nine-time NBA All-Star. “We like coming over here, having fun and working with the kids in basketball clinics.”
And then he ran into the question that foreign athletes seem to get asked every time they visit the country.
Although he found it hard to take sides, the 42-year-old Payton, who earned the nickname “The Glove” for his dogged defense admitted that he is a close friend of Mayweather and that even in boxing, he values defense a lot.
“Both are my friends but I’m not as close to Pacquiao as I am to Mayweather,” Payton said in an interview with the Inquirer.
“Mayweather and I hang out all the time. So [if I had to choose sides], I have to go with him.”
The 1996 NBA Defensive Player of the Year and a nine-time All-Defensive Team member added: “They’re both quick but I think Mayweather is a more defensive boxer. I think it’s going to be hard for Pacquiao to hit him like he does everybody else.”
Payton teams up with Rice, PBA Legends Allan Caidic, Atoy Co, Vergel Meneses and current standouts LA Tenorio, Arwind Santos and Asi Taulava for tomorrow’s blockbuster exhibition game.
Payton’s Red Team will be mentored by Alaska champion coach Tim Cone and also backstopped by NBA D-League players Darnell Lazare and Chris McCray.
Webber and Richmond banner the White Team, which tapped local stars Alvin Patrimonio, Benjie Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Ronald Tubid, Rico Maierhofer, Dondon Hontiveros, D-League cagers Mark Tyndale and Richie Frahm. San Miguel Beer coach Siot Tanquincen will call the shot
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