NBA / Oct 4, 2007 / 3:00 pm

The H.O.F. Watch – Gary Payton


Getting into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame is tougher than you think — in the game’s long history, only 134 players have been certified at the Springfield, Mass., hoops mecca. Every day for the next few weeks we’re gonna take one active NBA star with arguable Hall of Fame credentials and break down his chances of getting in. We’re looking at not just past accomplishments, but also how a player’s career realistically projects for the future. For a full explanation, click here. Today’s candidate is Gary Payton. While “The Glove” isn’t currently on a training camp roster, he hasn’t officially retired, so until that happens we’re counting him as active.

GARY PAYTON (18th year, Heat/Celtics/Lakers/Bucks/Sonics)
16.3 points, 6.7 assists, 1.8 steals per game.

Why: The best defensive point guard ever? Probably. In ’96, GP copped the league’s Defensive POY when he racked up 2.85 steals per game (along with 19 points and 7.5 assists), shutting down everyone in an era when the NBA was loaded with super-talented PGs like Stockton, Kidd, Penny and Tim Hardaway. That same year, Payton led Seattle to the Finals, where they lost to Jordan’s 72-win Chicago squad. Payton was a two-time All-NBA first teamer, and after winning national college Player of the Year at Oregon State as a senior, he helped bring the Sonics back to relevancy during his 1990s heyday; even at the end of his run in Seattle he was still putting up more than 20 and 8 every night. He also has nine All-Star nods and two Olympic gold medals on his resume. Payton finally got that elusive championship ring with the Heat in ’06, playing a vital role in at least a couple of Miami’s postseason wins.

Why not: GP’s decline from superstar to borderline shouldn’t-be-in-the-NBA status was swift and jarring. He was averaging 20.8 points, 8.8 dimes and 1.8 steals when he was traded from Seattle in ’03, and just two years later was backing up Jason Williams in Miami. The finals images of him as a player will be that of a old, slow guard who can’t shoot or stay in front of anyone on defense. GP’s cantankerous demeanor and nonstop trash talk (or at least reputation for it) may have also turned off a lot of media types and possible HOF voters.

Our call: IN

The H.O.F. Watch archives
10/3 – Tracy McGrady

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  • CHI-C

    What’s up With Stephen Jackson Being named a TEAM CAPTAIN. That’s like the Warriors naming Chris Washburn a captain.Cause when I think of a team leader S. Jackson is the first person that comes to mind.

  • DOC

    Hes in no doubt. but I hate when people say somebody did somthing when the NBA was loaded. When was it not loaded ever. In 15 years we’ll be talkin about how it was loaded now. As long as the league is here people gonna be the shit on that court.

  • CHI-C

    WTF! Stephen Jackson is a TEAM CAPTIAN? He’ll show all the young guys the right way to be losers.

  • skywarp

    GP is in for sure the guys was a lockdown defender and i dnt really think his trash talking would hinnder his chances cuz its one of the aspect that makes him unique and stand out as the besttrash talker in NBA!

  • mic

    GP is IN no doubt. He is the finest example of point guard pedigree from the Bay Area (see: J-KIDD, etc.)and truth be told his trash talking has always been on alevel similar to someone like a Chad Johnson – it comes from a good place and sets him apart in a good way from the other high level point guards. guaranteed lock for the Hall.

  • http://hi5.com Triple Threat

    GP should not be left out of the HOF, because of his rep as a trash talker. Yeah, GP is one of Bay Area’s finest. GP pop’s should get some HOF votes, for teaching J-Kidd and GP and countless ours how to play the game. What’s his nickname Mr. Mean or something like that. Anyways, i was kind of kidding about GP’s pop’s getting some votes. In my Opinion, the Glove is the greatest sonic player of all time.

  • Captain America

    As a player, ok. As a person, what a turd.

  • Mike

    Wow I can’t believe that this is even a discussion.
    If GP don’t make the Hall, then a lot of the cats already in there should be kicked out. Except the really obvious ones like Wilt, Russell, Bird, and etc.
    The best defensive guard ever belongs in the Hall.
    And I mean all guards, not just point.

  • http://luckylester.com Lucky Lester

    I hate Captain America’s comments – he makes me want to live in communist China so I don’t have to hear or read useless things like that. Hit yourself in the head with your shield, and say something useful every once in a while.

  • http://dimemag.com Tom Toronto

    GP is a definite member, maybe even sooner than we think since he might not lace up the sneaks this year. I was already saying he should be in after the other post, and I didn’t even think about the two Gold Medals. He’s gotta be a lock for HOF, much moreso than TMac in the previous entry.

    And shout out to Lucky Lester, couldn’t be more right about “Captain America”. Fuck off with that nonsense, captain.

  • http://Dime Bullish_1

    Captain America (Turd) sucks You don’t know him as a person Dugh! GP first ballot HOF. No explantion needed!

  • http://flickr.com/photos/djkianoosh/578644347/ djKianoosh

    I have to say the glove is IN just cause if he gets in, then AI should get in, and I think AI is in, too. plus all that other stuff ya’ll said.

    seriously though, it sucks that GP had to go against that 72 win Bulls team. it’s like when AI had to go up against that undefeated (in the playoffs) Lakers team. their only loss was to the Sixers in that memorable game 1. those were some juggernaut championship teams those bulls and lakers. I think any other years that seattle team and that sixers team coulda shoulda woulda…

  • Ian Su

    some GP stats prior to 06/07 season:

    “became just the eighth player in league history to compile 15,000 points, 6,000 assists and 1,000 steals…enters the 2006-07 season ranked 23rd on the NBA’s all-time scoring list (21,455), third all-time in steals (2,402), sixth all-time in assists (8,765) and ninth all-time in minutes played (45,614)…”

    “remains first on Seattle’s all-time list for points (18,207), steals (2,107), games played (999), assists (7,384), minutes played (36,858), field goals made (7,292), three-point field goals made (917), field goals attempted (15,562) and three-point field goals attempted (2,855)…”

    HALL OF FAME GUARANTEED!!! I would LOVE Seattle to sign Gary to play out his 1000th game and retire his #20 jersey rightfully so, as a SONIC and IN Seattle (not Oklahoma). Unfortunately the new Sonic ownership group are liars, and will pull a Michael Heisley (ala Vancouver Grizzlies) and pull the team outta there. What a shame. I’m praying Stern comes to his senses and stops these scammers.

  • Sleepless

    You can’t tell me Gary won’t make it! He was the heartbeat of the Sonics!!! It blew me away when they let him go. But that’s the busimess.
    I say IN!!!

  • Coop

    You’ve got to be kidding- GP is an absolute lock to get in. It’s a certainty. the fact that he’s bad now is essentially irrelevant.

  • girlybballluver

    LOL @ Lucky Lester…Hahahaha
    Gary’s in, no doubt about it.

  • chris b

    14 hof seasons….4 yrs on and off part-timing it for $ and a chip -totally in.

  • Patrick Corcoran

    Larry Bird sucks these days! Kick him outta the Hall!

    LOL… dinging a guy’s entire career because he gets old.

    Only Mutombo is immortal, and don’t you forget it.

  • http://dimemag.com Terrell James

    GP’s HOF status isn’t even a debate. He is in hands down. He copped him some “shiny stuff” (thanks Steph) so he’s off that list of greats waking up in cold sweats with MJ on their mind……Barkley, Malone, Reggie, Stockton, Ewing

  • Dave

    There is no doubt the GP is in. The best player he ever had in Seattle was an overrated Shawn Kemp. Kemp was always just a dunker. Payton was better than Barkley, Malone, Ewing. And, Stockton may have been a better passer (questionable) and pure shooter, but Payton was better in every other aspect of the game.

  • Jason

    He’s in no doubt.

  • http://www.kaycephotography.com/kayceonline/ Kayce Online

    GP should def be in, has fallen off in a huge way past few years but he’s put up great stats over his career and he was at one point either the best or 2nd best PG in the game as well as the heart & soul of the Sonics..

  • Gee

    GP will be in. Might take a while but he will get in. He has a long history and has made a name for himself and finally got his ring. GP will make it. Fa sho!

  • http://fossports kreillen

    Payton is is in. Not only did he shine in the face of major competion he shut down and frequently embarrased(watch nba tv when they show late 90’s sonic games)some of the best players in his and any era. I have got to defend my man kemp he was much more than a dunker he was everything stat is and more( ie. a good on ball defender and effective at helping off the ball, soild mid range J and he had more than 2 ackward low post moves and his short run in cleavland shows his game wasn’t based on speed alone) go back and watch some game footage before you make foolish comments…..ONE

  • Celts Fan

    It shouldn’t take “a while.” It should be first ballet. This guy is a top 5 or 6 PG of all time (Magic, Oscar, Stockton, Kidd, Isiah are the only ones you can even argue as better in my opinion.)

  • chris

    he’s in definitely. they’ve beaten the greatest BULLS team twice in the finals and put a scare on them. The BULLS are simply invincible during that playoff and the sonics put their feet back to the grounds. Thanks to the thrash-talkin leadership of GARY PAYTON. that’s the defining moment of his HOF career.

  • D-lite

    “The Glove IN” GP shut down or talked down the best of them on many a Sunday afternoon for all to see and hear. Can’t fault a guy for aging, plenty could not even lace them up at his age. A ittle arrogance is tolerated when you can back it up, xbox youngsters take notes.

  • Gee

    Yes probably “A while” because dude is still in the leauge and he has dropped off hard from where he was. It would be different if he was still balling like his Seattle days. He shopped around trying to find a team he could get his ring with all the while becoming sub-par. He is IN but there will be significant consideration and scrutiny before he goes in. Don’t act like his name is the first name you want on your squad NOW! Back then yes, but now naw! LOL @ first ballet in that case why don’t you put Shawn Kemp in with him first ballet. NOT!

  • Reggie Jones

    Gary is in easily…..How come Bobby Dandridge and Jamaal Wilkes are not in the Hall of Fame??? Bobby Dandridge was a great defensive player with clutch offensive skills and won TWO championships. Jamal Wilkes won FOUR titles in the pros and others in college and yet DOLLAR Bill Bradley is in and these guys who were much players who accomplished just as much as he did.
    P.S. and I am a longtime Knick fan

  • J Bizil

    Are you kidding? GP is a first ballot lock for the HOF. I was too young to see Walt Frazier play but I know what he represented and GP is cut from the same cloth. A point guard with size (6’4) who can lock down ones and twos, can score as well as any point guard in their respective eras, and can run a team like a HOF PG should. When you factor in scoring, defense, and playmaking no PG did it better than GP and Frazier. Think about it no other PG’s combined the three like GP and Frazier. Kidd can’t score with the ease, jump shot, or effiency. Magic and Isiah couldn’t defend as well. Stockton didn’t have the versatility on defense or score as well. Nash doesn’t have the defense. Big O didn’t have the defense. I’m not saying GP is the best PG ever but he’s in the top 7 or 8 ever. However when it came to combining those three facets of the game he was the best ever along with Clyde Frazier.

  • Robert D.

    GP definitely deserves to be in the HOF. He deserves it more than Steve Nash. Bet that shit

  • CJ

    He’s in without a doubt. One of the best all-around point guards ever. He had 12+ great, All-Star Level seasons. It’s debatable whether he’s in the Top 5 point guards of all time, it’s not (or should not) be debatable about him being in the Hall of Fame. GP is in.

  • http://dimemag.com Austin Burton

    One of my favorite players of all-time and someone I grew up watching in Seattle, so of course I’m biased. Still, GP is definitely in the HOF. He’s the best defensive guard I’ve ever seen, was always among the League leaders in assists and could score on the block or from the perimeter. If Shawn Kemp had held it together, he and GP would have won a championship and surpassed Stockton/Malone as far as all-time passer/scorer combos go (Payton/Kemp outplayed Stockton/Malone in the ’96 WCF).

  • Master_Jayson

    He is IN.. no doubt!
    Everyone’s game will decline when they reach their age.. Even MJ.

  • http://thrust.org Mike Guzman

    I cannot believe this is even a discussion. Shame on you DIME. One thing you forgot to mention, Gary Payton has 9 ALL DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM Selections. Most all time and tied only with…Michael Jordan. Let it also be known that even though he backed up Jason Williams with the Heat, Gary was FINISHING the games. Hence the two clutch/game winning shots he hit in the Finals. Should he retire? Yes. After he won the ring in ’06. Last season was the first season in which it was hard to watch him play. I just wish he would have retired before the league retired him.

    HOF? 1st ballot ….no question.

  • Thwo

    To post 33:

    No way did Kemp outplay Malone in the 96 WCF. Malone was head and shoulders above him in that series, as he was throughout his career. I remember how Karl would play D up Kemp throughout the game, whereas Kemp would never be put on Mail. Malone was a best: play tough D on one end, while dropping 30 on the other.

    And just to prove I’m not talking out my ass, here are Malone’s stats for that series versus Kemp’s:

    Mail: 27 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 5.1 ast, stil 2.1, blks 0.4

    Kemp: 20 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 1.3 ast, 0.9 stl, 1.3 blks

    Ownage, pure and simple.

    As for Stockton versus GP, Stockton was beat up in that series badly. Payton was backing off him on the perimeter throughout, which is the opposite of lockdown D but was smart: he knew John was hurt. If Stockton hadn’t been injured, the Jazz would have won that series.


    GP? Just as surely a HOF lock. GP>>>>Kidd, Nash. Easy.

  • Eric

    All one needs to do is read John Hollinger’s piece on GP today and realize that he is a definite “IN”…he was awesome.

  • autoprt

    as far as Stephen Jackson is concerned Nelson is a great coach, he realizes that maybe by taking ownership SJ will be more inclined to try to set an example now that the team is his. Maybe the new responsibility will help him to grow up.

  • http://funkyenough.com/gp_tribute.html Gary Payton

    Keep the Sonics In Seattle.

  • JD

    I was lucky enough to play a few games and meet GP in the 98 lockout season. The Sonics played at the Bellevue Pro Club. (Down the street from Microsoft HQ) If you think I am lieing ask GP, him and many other Sonics played there during the 98 lockout season. GP gave 100% and more even in practice. I recall he was pissed at Hersey Hawkins for shooting 3’s at the other end while GP and the gang wanted to run some plays. Even Xavier McDanels was there. It was the best 2 months I ever spent playing Ball. Most people don’t know that GP was badly hurt in the 95-96 season. He slipped and messed up his back, since that year he hasn’t fully recovered, but he kept playing. If you look at old footage, GP couldn’t dunk after that year. He attempted 3 dunks in 96 and rim-checked all 3 attempts. He played hurt for 10+ years, but still put up good numbers and didn’t complain, just showed up for the game and played. GP should be in the HOF, but it isn’t up to me to decide.

  • tonedef

    I have to say taht Kidd may have had a better career (maybe), but GP is second to him as the best PG of the last 15 years (I put Stockton in a different generation).

    HE’s on a different level than nash.