BY Art Thiel 04:21PM 01/17/2017

Payton among honorees at Star of Year Feb. 8

Nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton of the Sonics leads the award winners for the 82nd annual Star of the Year gala at the Paramount Theatre. Public voting is underway for three awards.

Olympic speed skater Apolo Ohno, left, and Sonics star Gary Payton chatted at a previous edition of the annual Sports Star of the Year awards event. / Scott Eklund, Red Box Pictures

Nine-time NBA All-Star Gary Payton is among the honorees for the MTR Western Sports Star of the Year event Feb. 8 at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle. The 82nd annual event celebrates the best of Washington sports in 2016 as well as honoring sports figures of the past.

Payton, catalyst for the great Sonics teams of the 1990s under coach George Karl, will receive the Royal Brougham Award for lifetime achievement. He is among four who were were selected by a Seattle Sports Commission committee for the event’s annual standing awards.

Star of the Year, begun in 1936 by Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports editor Royal Brougham, is the longest continuously running event of its kind in the U.S. It has honored the state’s most successful, inspiring and iconic athletes, coaches, benefactors and media.

Besides the committee’s pre-selected awards, the commission invites the public to vote online in three categories for 2016 winners: Female Sports Star of the Year, Male Sports Star of the Year and Sports Story of the Year.

Ballots are found at Voting deadline is 5 p.m. Jan. 27.

In 11 seasons from 1990 to 2002 with the Sonics, Payton, an Oregon State grad from Oakland, set team records for points, assists and steals and led the Sonics to the 1996 NBA Finals. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. Nicknamed “The Glove,” he is the only point guard named NBA Defensive Player of the Year. The Brougham award honors lifetime achievement among those who exemplify the spirit of the state.

Also honored:

Paul Allen Award, given to an individual who has made a significant or compelling philathropic contribution: Jacob Green, Seahawks.

In 180 games over 12 seasons from 1980 to 1991, including three All-Pro seasons, Green has been a steadfast leader in the fight against cancer. His annual Charity Golf Classic has raised more than $2.6 million for the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. He also has raised more than $420,000 for Komen for the Cure.

Keith Jackson Award, given to a member of the media for excellence in communicating the sports stories of Washington: Rick Rizzs, Mariners.

A member of the Mariners radio-TV crew since 1983, Rick Rizzs has been on hand to describe the team’s biggest moments and “happy totals.” He was sidekick to his good friend, the late Hall of Famer Dave Niehaus, and became the lead radio voice of the Mariners in 2011. His Toys for Kids charity has raised more than $2.5 million over 20 years.

Wayne Gittinger Inspirational Youth Award, given to a young athlete who has overcome major medical obstacles who inspire others: Riley Sorenson, Washington State football.

A 6-4, 330-pound senior center from California, Sorenson in barely half a year lost his father to a heart attack and his mother to cancer, then was diagnosed with cancer himself. He had surgery and played his senior season, helping the Cougars to an 8-5 record in part with his desire to play through grief.

Here are the nominees for the awards voted on by the public:

Female Sports Star of the Year

·         Julianne Alvarez, University of Washington women’s golf

·         Kelsey Plum, UW women’s basketball

·         Courtney Schwan, UW volleyball

·         Sierra Shugarts, Western Washington University women’s soccer

·         Breanna Stewart, WNBA Seattle Storm


Male Sports Star of the Year

·         Jake Browning, UW football

·         Nelson Cruz, Mariners

·         Gabe Marks, Washington State University  football

·         Jordan Morris, Sounders FC

·         Bobby Wagner, Seattle Seahawks


Sports Story of the Year

·         Ken Griffey Jr. enters Baseball Hall of Fame

·         Huskies make College Football Playoffs

·         Seahawks win NFC West for the third time in four years

·         Sounders FC wins MLS Cup

·         UW women’s basketball leaps into Final Four

·         UW women golfers are national champions

General admission tickets to the mezzanine level are $35. Details on reserved tickets and tables for 10 for dinner can be can be found at To stay up to date, follow the SSC Twitter account, @SeattleSC, or the event hashtag, #82SSY.


  • Husky73

    Is the Rizzer coming alone, or is he bringing his toupee? OK, that was uncalled for. He’s an excellent broadcaster and a cool guy. But this most certainly is called for– Gary Payton’s trash talk lowered the bar in the NBA and every sport and sportsman that followed. His vile language set the subterranean standard for the worst in sportsmanship and crudity. Trash talk was invented by Muhammad Ali, and Payton perfected it. It has spread like a pus oozing virus through every level of sport, including ten year old boys playing football. Thanks, GP.

    • MrPrimeMinister

      Have to agree here. Wont attempt to one-up your spot on descriptive word usage applied to the individual, but will question what the committee, or whoever runs this fabulous event which goes back to Brougham,etal, could have been thinking when selecting possible honorees. Maybe the region is running out of people to honor?

      • art thiel

        OK, Michael Jordan, out of the hall. Bend over here and wash out your mouth with lye.

        • MrPrimeMinister

          Wow, seems fairly abusive. Taking the high road on outta here.

    • Tian Biao

      He is being honored for his basketball contributions, not his personality. also, i can’t imagine that Gary Payton’s behavior 20 years ago has anything to do with the way NBA and other players behave now. further, are you seriously suggesting that there was no trash talking in any sport before Muhammad Ali? that seems highly unlikely, to say the least.

      • art thiel

        I believe Babe Ruth was known to cuss somewhere between his drinking and wenching.

    • art thiel

      Wow. By that standard, Your Holiness, every sports hall of fame could be held in a double-wide trailer.

      • Husky73

        I am not discounting Payton’s excellence as a player. He is most deserving of the honor. He may be the greatest Sonic. I’d have to think about that in regards to Lenny Wilkens and Spencer Haywood. I understand Art’s and the others’ reaction to my post. It’s not holiness, although I always liked the title Monsignor. And yes, of course, there were trash talkers before Ali, but NOTHING like Ali himself. He opened the flood gates, some of it was very racist. We tend to overlook or forget that in his veneration. It’s not a black/white thing: Larry Bird–absolutely. In Dr. King’s words (paraphrasing), judge people on the content of their character….and in my words, and what comes out of their mouths (including the President-elect). A person that drops 300 F and MF bombs and 40 N words during an NBA game, and then speaks differently in an interview is hypocritical, don’t you think? Colin Powell noted, “We have lost our sense of shame.” Art, you are right– not long ago, our mouths were washed out with soap for 1% of what GP said every night at KeyArena, and within easy ear shot of my floor seats. Those days are forever gone, but the lack of civility on a basketball court, in everyday life and in a Presidential campaign is a legitimate concern and topic.

    • Comrade C-attle

      I swear Larry Bird talked trash too but I guess he did it the Whit…sorry, right way, unlike Payton and Alli.

      • art thiel

        They could name the Trash-Talk Trophy after him and everyone who knows would applaud.

  • Comrade C-attle

    I’m guessing George Karl won’t be introducing GP.

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