BY SPNW Staff 03:30PM 04/04/2013

Gary Payton elected to hoops Hall of Fame

To little surprise, former Sonics star Gary Payton was a unanimous selection to the Basketball Hall of Fame. The nine-time NBA All-Star will be enshrined Sept. 8.

Gary Payton chats with Apolo Ohno at the annual Sports Star of the Year awards at Benaroya Hall two years ago. Payton was a unanimous selection to the Basketball Hall of Fame. / Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures

As Chris Hansen attempts to built a fresh Sonics legacy by returning a team to town, one of the best parts of franchise history came back into the light: 13-year Sonics veteran and nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton was voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.The official announcement of those selected from a list of 12 nominees will be Monday in Atlanta before the NCAA championship game, but multiple media outlets report Payton was a unanimous selection by 24 voters of the Honors Committee. Eighteen are needed for election.

Another former Sonic is among the nominees: Spencer Haywood, who starred in Seattle from 1969-75.  Others are Maurice Cheeks, Bernard King, Tim Hardaway and Mitch Richmond, former Celtics coach Tom Heinsohn, former University of Houston coach Guy Lewis, Louisville coach Rick Pitino, former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian, former WNBA star Dawn Staley and North Carolina’s women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell.

A nine-time all-defensive team choice, “The Glove” was the only guard point to win the defensive player of the year award (1995-96). A weak shooter when he was taken No. 2 overall in the 1990 draft by Seattle, Payton became an effective scorer, averaging 16.3 points, 6.9 assists and four rebounds during a 17-year career that included a championship with the Miami Heat in in 2006. He won Olympic goal medals in 1996 and 2000.

A relentless trash talker, the Oakland native spared no one — rivals like Michael Jordan as well as his own coaches, teammates and fans across the country. He was once famously described in a magazine article as “fated to die in mid-sentence.”

He was perhaps the toughest player in Sonics history, missing only three games for injuries and two others for separate league and team suspensions, the latter by longtime teammate and friend Nate McMillan when he took over as coach.

Payton never hit it off with Howard Schultz, who bought the team from Barry Ackerley in 2001 and traded Payton to the Milwaukee Bucks in in February 2003. He played for the Lakers and Celtics before going to Miami, after which he retired following the 2006-07 season.

The Hall of Fame previously announced five new members: Roger Brown was voted in by the American Basketball Association Committee, Edwin B. Henderson by the Early African American Pioneers Committee, Oscar Schmidt by the International Committee, Richard Guerin by the Veterans Committee and Russ Granik by the Contributor Committee.

New members will be enshrined during a Sept. 8 ceremony in Springfield, MA.

 


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