Out of all the legendary players listed for potential inclusion into the Hall of Fame this year, Gary Payton is the biggest lock of them all to be inducted.
Simply put, there is no other player on the list of nominees who had the impact or the dominance that Payton had right throughout his career. None of them still have the legacy of a great that the star point guard has at the moment.
Payton is inextricably linked with the history of the Seattle SuperSonics, and will go down as the greatest Sonic ever in the history of the NBA.
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Payton holds the distinction of being the only player from any franchise with the title of their all-time leader in points, games played, minutes, assists and steals. Payton, in his 12 seasons with the franchise, can attest to holding the all-time record in all of them. One must simply wonder just where the franchise would have been in the late 90's if it weren't for Payton's success throughout the decade.
They probably would have been right where they are now.
Offensively, there have been few point guards as good as Payton. He averaged over 16 points per game in his career, along with 6.7 assists per game as well, showcasing on both ends of offense.
Yet his biggest impact came on the defensive front, with the man affectionately known as "The Glove" the fourth-highest in NBA history for total steals. The 2,445 steals in 17 seasons speaks for itself, as does the fact he remains the only point guard to ever win the Defensive Player of the Year Award, in 1996.
It is little wonder, then, that accolades and awards followed this success. All-defensive team selections, All-Star selections and All-Team selections flowed in for Payton, all of which the legendary guard achieved nine times in his career—as well as two Olympic-team selections, both of which he finished with an Olympic gold medal around his neck.
Not that there was ever going to be another result given Payton's illustrious NBA career and his dogged determination for success.
Tim Hardaway and Bernard King are probably the two other big-names likely to receive induction this year but, when it comes to picking a favorite, it is simply Payton and then "the rest," as he is far and away the strongest candidate this year.
No other player can attest to the legacy that Payton has left or the achievements that he has had either in his 17 seasons throughout the NBA.
Expect "The Glove" to pick up the only remaining prize he deserves (but hasn't yet won) when he is inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in April.
Who's your pick to be inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame this year?
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