SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — Gary Payton grew up on the West Coast and became a dominant defender.
A path that started on the playgrounds in Oakland and went through KeyArena with the Seattle SuperSonics reached the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame with Payton’s induction along with five other players, four coaches and two contributors.
Payton was known for his defensive prowess, aggressiveness and trash-talking.
“I played hard because I wanted to win every time,” Payton said of his 17-year career, nearly 13 of them with the SuperSonics. “It was all for my crazy love for the game.”
Also inducted Sunday were coaches Rick Pitino, Jerry Tarkanian, Guy Lewis and Sylvia Hatchell; players Bernard King,
Dawn Staley, Richie Guerin, Roger Brown and Oscar Schmidt; and contributors Russ Granik and E.B. Henderson.
Henderson, who learned basketball at Harvard in 1904 then introduced it to African-American students in Washington, D.C., and four-time ABA All-Star Brown of the Indiana Pacers were enshrined posthumously.
Pitino’s induction comes five months after he led Louisville to the NCAA championship. He also won the title with Kentucky in 1996 and is the only coach to take three teams — Providence was the other — to the Final Four.
Tarkanian coached UNLV to the 1990 NCAA title, and Lewis took the Houston Cougars to five Final Fours.
Hatchell, the coach at North Carolina since 1986, is the second winningest coach in NCAA women’s history (907 wins), behind ex-Tennessee coach Pat Summitt (1,098).
King averaged 22.5 points in 15 NBA seasons with five teams.
Staley was a five-time WNBA All-Star.
Guerin was named to six consecutive All-Star Games and was NBA coach of the year in 1968 with the St. Louis Hawks.
Schmidt played in five Olympics for Brazil.
Granik is the former deputy NBA commissioner under David Stern.
Payton is the only NBA player with 20,000 points, 8,000 assists, 5,000 rebounds and 2,000 steals.
Payton laments that young players play mostly tournaments now.
“They don’t play that hard anymore,” he said. “We played on the playground and that’s where I got my toughness and all the (trash) talking from because I had to play against the neighborhood rowdies. … I got in a lot of fights.”