CORVALLIS, Ore. – It’s official. The greatest basketball player in Oregon State history now needs to be referred to as Hall of Famer Gary Payton.
Payton was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday and joins former Oregon State coaching legends Amory “Slats” Gill and Ralph Miller among the all-time greats to be honored in Springfield, Mass.
”I dedicate this night to the memory of my late college coach Ralph Miller,” Payton said during his Enshrinement Speech. “Coach, I’m honored to be joining you in the Hall. To my coach Jimmy Anderson, you recruited me to Oregon State and became my head coach after Ralph retired. You and Fifi are wonderful. Thank you.
“My career is complete. Gary Payton is evolving, but GP is in the Hall of Fame.”
Payton was presented by Hall of Famers John Stockton (’09) and George Gervin (’96).
The Class of 2013 also includes seven-time NCAA Final Four coach Rick Pitino; four-time NCAA Final Four coach Jerry Tarkanian; five-time WNBA All-Star Dawn Staley; five-time NCAA Final Four coach Guy Lewis; four-time NBA All-Star Bernard King; three-time National Coach of the Year Sylvia Hatchell; ABA legend Roger Brown; early African-American pioneer Dr. E.B. Henderson; Brazilian scoring machine Oscar Schmidt; six-time NBA All-Star Richard Guerin and former President of USA Basketball and NBA Deputy Commissioner Russ Granik.
When Payton entered Oregon State in 1986 as a 6-foot-2, 170-pound guard from Oakland, Calif., Miller said at the time: “Gary Payton is awfully quick. He is an excellent penetrator and possibly is the point guard type more so than anyone else on the team. He averaged over 10 assists a game in high school, prides himself on the pass and, while he probably shoots just better than average, he can make things happen.”
Payton certainly made things happen in his four years at Oregon State. He led the Beavers to three NCAA Tournament appearances, became the school’s career leader in points (2,172), assists (938) and steals (321), and was a consensus All-American in 1990 when he was selected Sports Illustrated National Player of the Year.
“It’s not a surprise to me that Gary is in the Hall of Fame,” said Jim Anderson who played for Gill, was a long-time assistant for Miller and the head coach during Payton’s senior season in 1990. “He showed signs that he would be a great player when he came to Oregon State. But like any young kid coming into a program, he had to prove himself. He kept getting better and he definitely proved himself. He verified everything in the pros.
“With Gary joining Slats and Ralph in the Hall of Fame, it shows the longevity of three basketball minds. Gary helped Ralph get in the Hall of Fame and vice versa.”
Other honors and highlights of Payton’s four-year career at Oregon State, in which he started every game, include:
Oregon State Honors
• Selected national Player of the Year by Sports Illustrated in 1990.
• 1990 consensus All-American first team pick.
• 1990 Pac-10 Player of the Year.
• Other 1989-90 honors: Billy Packer’s U.S. Army Reserve Player of the Year, L.A. Gear Unstoppable Player of the Year, Bill Hayward Amateur Athlete for the state of Oregon, MVP of the Japan Classic All-Star Tournament.
• Three-time All-Pac-10 selection.
• Pac-10 All-Tournament selection in 1988 and 1989.
• 1987 Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year.
• Pac-10 Player of the Week nine times in his career, more than any player in conference history.
• Three-time MVP of the Far West Classic and the only four-time all-tournament selection.
• Selected to the Pac-10 All-Decade Team for the 1980s.
• OSU jersey (#20) retired during 1996-97 season.
• Inducted into the Oregon State University Athletic Hall of Fame in 1996.
• Named to Pac-10 Conference’s inaugural Hall of Honor class in 2002.
Oregon State Highlights
• The Pac-12’s all-time leader in assists (938) and steals (321).
• Sixth all-time leading scorer in the Pac-12 and all-time leader at Oregon State (2,172 points).
• His 58 points vs. USC on Feb. 22, 1990 set the Oregon State school record and is the third-most ever in Pac-12 history.
• Led Oregon State in scoring in 1988-89 (20.1) and 1989-90 (25.7).
• Ranks second for single-season scoring at Oregon State with 746 points in 1989-90 and seventh with 603 points in 1988-89.
• Finished his Oregon State career with 16 30-point scoring games.
• Led Oregon State in assists and steals all four seasons.
• Holds the top four spots on Oregon State’s single-season assists list.
• Set the school record with 15 assists vs. Arizona State (Nov. 30, 1989).
• On Oregon State’s all-time leaderboard, holds 10 career, seven single-season, six single-game and five consecutive-game records.
Payton was the second overall selection in the 1990 NBA Draft by the Seattle SuperSonics, where he starred for more than 12 years before being traded to the Milwaukee Bucks. He played one season each with the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics before ending his 17-year NBA career with the Miami Heat where he won an NBA championship in 2006.
He was a nine-time NBA All-Star and nine-time NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, and was an All-NBA First Team selection in both 1998 and 2000. Payton was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 1996, becoming the only point guard to ever win the award. He ended his NBA career ranking third all-time in steals (2,445), seventh in assists (8,966), eighth in games played (1,335) and 21st in points (21,813).
"I love Gary,” said George Karl who coached Payton with the Sonics from 1992-98. “I think he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, no question about it. He's in the top 10 all-time in assists, but he’s a winner more than he’s a stat guy. He just plays a winning brand of basketball, starting with defense. He also had a maturity to his game later in his career. He became a good offensive player but early in his career he was a poor shooter. He turned into a pretty decent shooter. He was wonderful for me. Once we got on the same page, it was fun to be a part of."
Payton was also a member of the 1996 and 2000 United States Olympic basketball teams that won gold medals.
Nicknamed “The Glove” for his defensive prowess, Payton retired from the NBA in 2007 with career averages of 16.3 points, 6.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
"Gary Payton was one of the fiercest competitors I have ever seen on the basketball court,” said Don MacLean, the Pac-12’s all-time leading scorer. “His on ball defense is legendary to the college and NBA game. I played against him when he was at Oregon State and had never seen a guy dominate a game from the guard position on defense and offense quite like he did, and I'm not sure I have seen one since. Payton had both a great college career and pro career and is deserving as anyone to be in the Hall of Fame."
Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Birthplace of Basketball, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame promotes and preserves the game of basketball at every level – professional, collegiate, men and women.