SuperSonics legend Gary Payton was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Sunday in Springfield, MA. The only NBA player with 20,000 points, 8,000 assists, 5,000 rebounds and 2,000 steals, Payton was a Sonic from 1990 into 2003, then played for four teams until his retirement after the 2006-07 season.
“I played hard because I wanted to win every time,” he said of his 17-year career, nearly 13 of them with the Sonics. “It was all for my crazy love for the game.”
Payton thanked his family, friends, coaches and trainers, making special mention of former Sonics assistant Tim Grgurich and Nate McMillan, and only passing mention of George Karl, his Seattle coach from 1992 through 1998. He made special mention of the Ackerley family that owned the team from 1983-2000.
“They were the best owners ever,” he said. “You loved me and I loved you back.”
He thanked his Seattle teammates, including Shawn Kemp.
“For my Sonics teammates, I share this honor with you,” he said. “Especially the Reign Man, Shawn Kemp. You all talk about Lob City over there with the Clippers? We were the original Lob City.”
He said, smiling, that he was “the greatest trash-talker of all-time, Reggie (Miller, in the audience). But you know what? I can back it up.”
“(My trash talking) was all for my crazy love of the game . . . I don’t regret the way I went about it and I’m a strong man today as a result. But I can’t help but think I could have given more to the game that gave so much to me.
“My career is complete. Gary Payton is evolving, but GP is in the Hall of Fame.”
Payton finished his career with an average of 17 points, seven assists, four rebounds, and two steals over 17 NBA seasons.