The finalists for the 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame were announced Friday and Gary Payton is among the final 12 being considered for induction into the prestigious shrine.
If Payton isn't selected as a first-ballot inductee, the voters may need to have their credentials removed. "The Glove" is a no-brainer to be inducted as soon as possible.
In a class of finalists that includes the likes of Mitch Richmond, Tim Hardaway and Maurice Cheeks, Payton stands out as the best candidate of them all. Here's why Payton should start preparing his speech now.
Payton is one of the most decorated players of the 90s.
As one of the best defensive guards of all time he was selected to the NBA's all-defense team an incredible nine times (every year 1994-2002). He's also the only point guard to ever win the NBA's defensive player of the year award (1996).
Aside from his defensive prowess, Payton was a regular All-Star (nine-time selection) and was selected to the All-NBA team frequently (nine-time selection).
On top of his individual awards, he was a two-time Olympic gold medalist for Team USA and captured an NBA championship in 2006 as a member of the Miami Heat.
Aside from his numerous achievements as both an individual and teammate, Payton has the stats to back up his Hall of Fame candidacy.
One of the better scoring point guards of all time, he scored 21,813 points in his illustrious career. That's good for 16.3 points per game for his entire career. He averaged 20 or more points per game in eight of his 17 seasons.
Payton didn't neglect his responsibility as a facilitator either. For his career he averaged 6.7 assists per game, including seven seasons with eight or more per game.
However, his offensive numbers pale in comparison with his defense. "The Glove" was one of the greatest on-ball defenders of all time and racked up 2,445 steals in his 17-year career, good for fourth in NBA history for most steals.
A first-ballot Hall of Famer needs to have more than just achievements and numbers, they need to have made an impact on the game and defined their era.
There's no denying that Payton was a huge part of the 90s scene and a legend for the Seattle (Super) Sonics franchise. He was originally drafted by the organization in 1990 and played 12 seasons, leading the team to a NBA Finals appearance in 1996.
Payton left Seattle as the franchise's all time leader in points, minutes, games played, assists and steals.
Payton's in-your-face style and tenacity were symbolic of the era in which he played and was one of the truly elite players of his time. That's what makes him a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
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