Gary Payton is the clear-cut favorite to be elected voted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. If inducted, The Glove will join the current crop of over 300 individuals who have been granted basketball immortality.
Finalists for the 2013 class were announced on Feb. 15 as a kickoff to All-Star Weekend festivities in Houston. Among Payton there were several others being considered: Tim Hardaway, Mitch Richmond, Maurice Cheeks, Rick Pitino, Bernard King and several others (h/t AP via ESPN).
Remember, being enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame isn’t just related to an individual’s success in the NBA. Dubbed the “Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame,” the organization recognizes the entire spectrum of achievement in the sport, not just NBA success, although that organization is the pinnacle of basketball.
Besides the names who have been inducted, it serves as a shrine for generations of basketball memorabilia and history.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should take a quick look at what Payton has done on the court and contributed to the game.
He’s an NBA champion (2006) and nine-time NBA All-Star for his defensive acumen. The Glove got his moniker from developing into an on-court presence that stifled opponents. As a result, his career total of 2,445 steals ranks fourth all-time in the NBA’s record books.
There was simply no one better during the 1990s and early 2000s defensively when Payton was on the court. His great ability also netted him an NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award in 1996, making him the only point guard to ever win the award.
Off the court, he has emerged as focal point for the efforts to bring a basketball team back to Seattle after the SuperSonics departed for Oklahoma City in 2008. While he’s not the only one involved in that struggle, he has been active and vocal about his commitment to righting the wrong that was done to the city of Seattle.
Not only did Payton compete at a high level for an extended and consistent period, but he has given back to the city of Seattle in the process. That is enough for me to give him the nod after making the finals in voting for the first time.
All figures, stats and information concerning the Basketball Hall of Fame was retrieved from the organization’s website unless otherwise noted.