Enter the Hall of Fame: toned-down Gary Payton prepares for big moment

payton-waveGary Payton has left his mark on the NBA as one of the best defensive guards ever played in the league. He will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday, by fellow Hall of Famers, John Stockton and George “The Iceman” Gervin.

Payton explained why he’s getting inducted into the hall of fame, according to NBA.com.

“”People have to understand I’m 45 years old now,” he said. “That was when I was in my 20s and my 30s. That’s what I did to become the person that I am now and that’s why I am going into the Hall of Fame, because that’s the way I played basketball. It got me into the NBA and the Hall of Fame and have all the good stats that I got.”

“People are understanding. They understand. They were like, ‘Yeah, we understand. That was where you were. We wouldn’t have liked you if you hadn’t been that guy. You made a mark on the NBA and that was your trademark.’ I appreciate that and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to make a trademark where people remember me as that person.”

Payton said he has a lot of nice things in his acceptance speech. This, Payton said in snarl-less tones, is not the new GP. This is the kinder, gentler GP that has always been there, if mostly hidden away from the public.

He looks forward to paying special tribute to his parents in attendance. His high school coach, one of his Oregon State coaches and at least one of his NBA head coaches, George Karl, plan to be there.

And Payton has chosen fellow point guard John Stockton and boyhood idol George Gervin for the ceremonial role as presenters.

He idolized Stockton as a player and appreciated the friendship that grew out of their time together with the 1996 Olympic team.

“I’m going to say a couple of things to a couple of people,” The Glove of old said. “Put some funny stuff in there.”

So he will trash talk from the podium.

“I’m going to do a lot of different stuff,” Payton said. “There’s going to be a little twist to it. Yeah, I might. I might trash talk to a few of the guys, some of my guys that I grew up with, some of the coaches that coached me. I know I’m going to get on Coach Karl. It’s going to be a fun speech.”

He has been practicing with a speech coach in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas, all the way to getting reps with a podium and microphone. That’s how much he wants this to go well.

“They will see that,” Payton said. “I’m really not like I was when I played basketball. Right now, I’m not a cocky guy. A lot of people like to be around me. That’s what most people always do to me when they meet me and be around me and get to know me as a person. They’d be like, ‘I never thought you would be like this. We thought you would be [a jerk] or arrogant and all that.’ I was like, ‘No, that’s not really what I am. I’m a fun guy. I like to do fun stuff. I like to laugh, I like to joke, I like to do a lot of things.’ It’s just when I played basketball, nobody was my friend. That’s the way I grew up.”

“It’s going to be a lot of passion for a minute and then it’s going to come from my heart. I’m going to talk very much from my heart and have a love for it. I think a lot of people are going to see the passion’s that’s in my heart and how serious I am and how passionate I am for what I’m going to say. A lot of people in there are going to be very, very surprised at the things I say and a lot of the people that I thank.”

“Gary Payton’s got a different side, and that’s my side. I’m going to show it and thank people that I need to thank because if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t have been the way I am now.”

Payton believes he would not have made it to Springfield, to two Olympic gold medals, to a Defensive Player of the Year, to a great run as a SuperSonic, without being The Glove, the mouth with the unforgiving personality.

It should be noted that Shawn Kemp and Payton led the Seattle Supersonics to the NBA Finals in 1995-96, where they fell to the Chicago Bulls, who went on to win two more championships in 1996-97 and 1997-98.

Payton stayed until Feb. 20, 2003, when he was traded to the Bucks and reunited with Karl.

Payton enjoyed a successful 17-year NBA career, and he’s best known for his 13-year tenure in Seattle, where he established himself as one of the best defensive point guards of all-time.

Payton played 1335 games in the NBA (1233 started), averaging 16.3 points and 6.7 assists over the course of his career. He averaged over 20 points in seven of his 17 seasons, with his career-high average of 24.2 points coming in the 1999-2000 season.

The point guard reached three NBA Finals, appearing in one each for the Sonics, Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat. Payton finally got that elusive first ring as a member of the 2005-06 Heat.


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