Basketball Hall of Fame guard Gary Payton testified Thursday that only married men can be considered cheaters in a relationship, but that single men like him are free to see as many women as they choose.

“Men can do whatever they want to do if they’re not married,” the 48-year-old former Laker guard said.

Payton was testifying on his own behalf in Los Angeles Superior Court, where a trial of a civil suit filed against him by Trishtan Williams is being heard. He said her constant nagging about his loyalty led to arguments between the pair in the hours after they attended a basketball awards ceremony in Seattle in 2015, where he was a presenter.

Payton said he also was unhappy that Williams posted a picture of herself on Instagram that alerted another female friend of Payton’s that she was there in Seattle with him.

But Williams, who said she was in a dating relationship with Payton at the time, told jurors that she feared for her life after two alleged beatings at his hands in the aftermath of the awards show.

“I was afraid for my life,” the 30-year-old Williams said. “He was acting like a beast.”

Williams, whose allegations include assault and battery, alleges that during her brief relationship with Payton that he evolved from being a “Prince Charming” to an individual who cheated on her and became abusive, forcing her to end their union.

Lawyers for Payton deny their client assaulted her and say Williams was a younger woman who wanted to exploit a wealthy older man.

Williams testified that she had a relationship with another man and gave birth to her only child in December 2008, but was not involved with any other men between the time she and her son’s father separated in 2012 and July 2014, when she met Payton in Las Vegas, unaware of who he was when he walked up to her.

Williams said the two went on a date the next day and eventually traveled together, including the trip to Seattle in late January 2015. Payton worked at the time as a Fox Sports analyst and had his best years as a member of the Seattle SuperSonics.

Williams said she noticed a change in Payton’s attitude toward her when the two took a nap at the W Seattle hotel before the awards show. She said she tried to hug him, but that he told her to stay on her side of the bed.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “It hurt my feelings.”

Williams said that after the ceremony, she, Payton and a Fox co-worker of the former player, Yvette Inclan, spent three to four hours at Ozzie’s bar, where Payton met with friends who played darts with him. In his testimony, Payton said he also had a dispute with Inclan, who complained that her boyfriend had cheated on her.

“That’s what you sign up for,” Payton said he told Inclan.

Williams said Payton often frowned at her at Ozzie’s and that she wanted to return to her Ladera Heights home to be with her son as soon as possible.

Williams said the first alleged confrontation between her and Payton occurred during the ride back to the hotel. She said she was seated in the front passenger seat and that Inclan sat in the back seat. She said she was a bit “tipsy” from drinking.

“All I can remember is Gary grabbing my neck with his right hand and choking me,” she said. “I couldn’t breathe because he has big hands.”

Williams said her head bounced against the right passenger window during the struggle. She said she heard Inclan scream at Payton to stop, but did not see the woman strike him in the temple with one of her elbows as Inclan testified on Wednesday.

Williams said she her head hit the glass again during an ensuing tussle and that she jumped out of the SUV after Payton slowed down. Both Payton and Inclan implored her to get back into the vehicle, Williams said.

“We can fix this at the hotel,” Inclan said, according to Williams.

Williams said she got back in the SUV and that after the trio reached the hotel, she accepted Inclan’s offer to stay in her room.

Williams said she went with Payton to their room to get her luggage, but that he surprised her when he asked for sex. She said she refused.

“You just (epithet) choked me out in the car,” Williams said she told Payton.

She said Payton began choking her again and that she eventually ended up on the floor, pleading for him to get off her.

She said that when she got up, he pulled on her ponytail so hard that the thread used to hold the ponytail together was hanging.

Williams said she left the room and tried to call Inclan, but received no answer. Inclan testified Wednesday that she fell asleep and did not hear her phone ring.

Williams said she did not call the police.

Williams said that except for a visit in New York on business, she never saw Payton again and that she has avoided all relationships with men since then. She said other women need to know what happened between her and Payton and that he should be held accountable for the alleged assaults.

The 6-feet-4-inch Payton sat expressionless as he heard Williams testify. He was nicknamed “the Glove” because of his defensive abilities.

He won his only NBA championship as a member of the Miami Heat in the 2005-06 season. He was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in September 2013.

Williams is a former producer for “The Amazing Race” and “America’s Next Top Model,” according to IMDb.

— City News Service

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