Seattle Supersonics: Why Gary Payton Should Be a Hall of Famer

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Seattle Supersonics: Why Gary Payton Should Be a Hall of Famer
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Longtime Supersonic Gary Payton retired in 2007, meaning he is eligible for election into the Naismith Hall of Fame this year.

Should he get in?  Probably.  Here are a number of reasons why.

Let's look at his hardware.

Payton has been selected to the NBA All-Star Game roster nine teams. Every player who has appeared that many times and is Hall of Fame-eligible is in the Hall of Fame. 

He has been selected to the All-NBA First Team twice and the All-NBA Second Team five times.  Only Paul Westphal and Max Zaslofsky have more All-NBA First Team selections and aren't in the Hall of Fame.  (Payton also has won a Defensive Player of the Year Award and been selected to a number of All-Defensive Teams, but those don't correlate to Hall of Fame consideration).

Though Payton never won an MVP and only finished in the top three once, he is 39th all-time in MVP Award shares.  Everybody with that many who has been retired long enough is in the Hall of Fame.

Now for his stats:

  • He is 22nd all-time in win shares.  Everyone in the top 35 who is Hall of Fame-eligible has been enshrined.    
  • He is one of eight players in the history of the NBA with 8,000 or more assistsfour of those are in the Hall of Fame and two more are active.  He is fourth all-time in stealsseven of the top ten in steals (including the three ahead of him) have been inducted.  
  • He is 28th all-time in points scored.  Every eligible player in the top 35 has been enshrined.  Payton is also one of only two players to be in the top 30 in points and the top 10 in assiststhe other is Oscar Robertson, widely considered one of the 10 or 15 greatest players in the game (and yes, a Hall of Famer).

Looking at similarity scores, the five players who are closest in similarity score and have been retired five-plus seasons are Clyde Drexler, Reggie Miller, George Gervin, Jerry West, and John Stockton.  All five are Hall of Famers. 

Payton also won a championship with the Miami Heat late in his career, so that's another box checked off.  He also is arguably the greatest player in the history of the Supersonics.

Bottom line: Looking at the metrics, anybody who's done as much as Gary Payton in any one category is in.  Since Gary Payton did as much as Gary Payton in all categories, he's in.

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