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 ssy.seattlesports.org. 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.
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 www.sportsstaroftheyear.org. To stay up to date, follow the SSC Twitter account, @SeattleSC, or the event hashtag, #82SSY.