1. Gary Payton, Sonics white-green-yellow, 1990-1991, #2. That’s not a typo. Most of you remember G.P. as jersey number 20, but Payton sported the deuce for one season and one season only due to circumstances beyond his control. Veteran guard Sedale Threatt, who wore the number of children he’d conceived on his back (Threatt has spent his post-NBA life plagued by accusations that he’s fathered a number of unclaimed kids), was the incumbent #20 when Payton was drafted second overall by the Sonics in 1990. That left Payton without his preferred digits and instead forced to go with the next best number in his mind: 2. The significance behind the number is largely attributed to Payton being the #2 pick overall in the 1990 NBA draft.
The #2 jersey itself is very rare, and was produced in limited quantities by Champion, who also made the official NBA jerseys during that ’90-’91 season. However, back in those days the jerseys were not yet mass produced in low-grade, screen-printed quality the way they would be by the mid-’90’s. Which means the only jerseys fans could buy were exact replicas of the real thing, complete with high-quality, heavy mesh and stitched lettering. In the Sonics’ case, the team name on the front and the player name on the back were still screen-printed on the authentic version of the jersey, which must have presented a hell of a challenge for the team launderer.
Despite the limited production of NBA jerseys back then, the first-round draft pick rule still applied to most teams and jersey makers, meaning the uniform of a lottery pick like Payton would be reproduced and made available to the general public. Hence, for one year, the Payton #2 jerseys existed.
When Sedale Threatt headed off to Los Angeles to play for the Lakers after Payton’s rookie season, G.P. claimed the number Threatt left behind and turned it into an icon that will one day be retired.
Gary Payton’s #2 jersey is near-impossible to find these days. The people that have the jersey plan to hang on it, and most individuals are unaware that Payton ever wore anything besides #20. All of which makes this iconic piece of apparel the rarest, coolest, most awesome Seattle sports jersey fans can buy.