Ranking the Top 25 Players in OKC Thunder History
Well, at least Seattle will have history on its side. As well as six retired jerseys that all don the green, white and yellow—for now.
Although the Supersonics have nostalgia and historic names to look back on, as well as the best moniker this side of Portland, the Oklahoma City Thunder will have their own jerseys to hang in the rafters within the next few decades.
In the meantime, the new basketball town of Oklahoma City will be pampered by the thoughts that they have a new franchise that is already playing at an elite level, despite having won only 23 games in its inaugural season back in 2009.
Since then, the Thunder have been perennial championship contenders and they've advanced as far as the NBA Finals, coming in 2012 and resulting in a five-game series loss to the Miami Heat.
What Seattle can boast over Oklahoma City is the witnessing of a championship. Actually, only a certain amount of the Seattle population can state such a proclamation considering the championship occurred in 1979.
We're a long ways away from the days of Gus Williams and Dennis Johnson.
Now it's the Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook era, and Oklahoma City is reveling in the success as the city of Seattle did throughout the 1990s when the Sonics were also known as perennial contenders.
In a six-year span from 1992 to 1998, the Sonics won at least 55 games a season and would advance as far as the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, like the Thunder going up against the Heat, they ran into a powerhouse Chicago Bulls team that was coming off a 72-win season.
There's a rich history and an even brighter future ahead for the dual franchise. To show respect for that history, we ranked the 25 best players to play in a Seattle Sonics or an Oklahoma City Thunder uniform.
25. Hersey Hawkins
I got a soft spot for those Seattle teams of the mid-'90s. Even if they didn't end up winning a title, those memorable teams that dominated the West were some of the most exciting to watch.
Hersey Hawkins, a key role player on those teams that contended for championship after championship, played four years for the Sonics and didn't miss a single game. He was the starting shooting guard for the first three seasons of his tenure with Seattle, before being relegated to the role of sixth man in his final year with the team in 1999.
With the Sonics, Hawkins would be one of the team's leading three-point shooters, converting at least 38 percent of his shots from beyond the arc throughout the first three years of his Seattle tenure.
He'd shoot over 40 percent in 1997 and '98 on four attempts per, while averaging as much as 16 points per in the year Seattle would make the Finals in 1996.
24. Michael Cage
His nickname was "John Shaft." Do I need to go on?
Michael Cage was a 6'9" power forward/center that played with Seattle from 1989 to 1994, and his calling card was defense and rebounding. He joined the Sonics a year after averaging a league-leading 13 rebounds per with the Los Angeles Clippers and would average at least nine boards per the next two seasons.
He would average a near double-double in 1990, finishing the season averaging 9.7 and 10 rebounds per. It was his offensive rebounding that inflated his stats as he would average three offensive caroms per for his career, and would average as much as 3.7 per with Seattle.
He averaged five offensive rebounds per in the season when he led the league in rebounds per.
In six years with Seattle, Cage missed a total of two games and would play in every single regular season game for eight consecutive years. He would play in 656 consecutive games between the ages of 28 and 35, and wouldn't miss a game until he was 36 years old and playing with the New Jersey Nets.
23. Derrick McKey
Drafted by Seattle with the sixth pick in the 1987 draft, Derrick McKey, a 6'9" small forward, spent the first six seasons of his career in a Sonics uniform.
In that time, McKey would average at least 13 points in all but his rookie season, averaging a career-high 15.9 points per in only his second season in the league. He would shoot a career-high 52 percent from the field in 1991 and would grab a career-high 6.1 rebounds per in 1990.
He would make the All-Rookie First team after averaging 8.5 points and four rebounds per off the bench.
What McKey was most known for, however, was being a defensive stalwart.
After departing from the Sonics, he would end up on two All-Defensive Second teams with the Indiana Pacers, serving as a key member of one of the league's stingiest defenses that would constantly compete for titles.
22. Lenny Wilkens
After spending the first eight years of his career with the St. Louis Hawks, Lenny Wilkens would spend the remaining years of his prime with the Seattle Sonics.
As a 31-year-old in his first year with the Sonics, Wilkens would average a career-high 22.4 points per game to go along with an impressive 8.2 assists and 6.2 rebounds per. He'd continue to impress in his second season with the Sonics when he led the league in assists with 9.1 per to go along with more consistently impressive numbers in his 17.8 points and five rebounds per.
Even that wasn't enough as Wilkens would go on to average 9.2 assists the next year, before finishing off his short time in Seattle averaging a career-high 9.6 assists per in 1972 as a 34-year-old.
Wilkens made it to three All-Star teams as a member of the Sonics. He is one of six Sonics to have their jersey retired by the franchise.
21. Vin Baker
A bruising power forward/center, Vin Baker would spend the remaining prime years of his career with the Sonics after several productive seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks.
He would spend five years with the Sonics in the late-1990s and early-2000s, moving from power forward to center and would represent the club in the 1998 All-Star game. He'd also earn his highest honors as an NBA player, making it to the All-NBA Second team in 1998 after playing all 82 games and averaging 19.2 points on a career-high 54 percent from the field to go along with eight rebounds per.
He nearly dropped a double-double in 21 minutes in the '98 All-Star game, scoring eight points and grabbing eight boards. He'd also average 15.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per in ten playoff games for Seattle, the most amount of games he played in a single postseason.
Baker's numbers would begin to drop the following season because of injuries that limited him to only 34 games, but he'd bounce back with a strong 16.6 points and 7.2 rebounds per game the following year. It would be the final season of Baker's career where he would average at least 15 points and seven rebounds.
20. Tom Chambers
An extremely underrated player, Tom Chambers actually began making a name for himself as a member of the Sonics before he became a household fixture with the Phoenix Suns.
Chambers would spend five years of his career with the Sonics, but would achieve arguably the highest honor of his career when winning All-Star game MVP in 1987, where he scored 34 points on 13-of-25 shooting to go along with four rebounds and four steals.
It would be the only time Chambers would represent the Sonics in the All-Star game, but it doesn't mean he wasn't productive in the other four years he spent with Seattle. He'd average at least 20 points in three years with Seattle, including averaging 23 points, which would be a career-high for two years before he began to light it up in Phoenix.
With Phoenix, Chambers would make it onto back-to-back All-NBA Second teams and would be a part of three All-Star teams.
The high-flyer, high-volume scorer will forever be known as the guy who nearly busted his chin on a poster dunk of Mark Jackson, but he was so much more than a poster creator in his time with Seattle and Phoenix.
19. Serge Ibaka
A reincarnate of Dikembe Mutombo, Serge Ibaka only needed two years to be recognized as a perennial contender for Defensive Player of the Year.
Ibaka has led the league in blocks per over the past two seasons, including averaging a staggering 3.7 per in 2012. Per 36 minutes, he was averaging nearly five blocks per that year. His most recent blocks per average was only a mere three per game, 3.5 per 36 minutes.
Serge is coming off a career season where he began to step into a role where his offense would be more of a necessity due to the absence of James Harden. With Ibaka as a fourth option, soon to be third, he put up a career-high 13.2 points per on a career-high 57 percent from the field.
He also grabbed a career-high 7.7 rebounds per, while also shooting a career-high 35 percent from beyond the arc on 57 attempts.
Ibaka has been named to the past two All-Defensive first teams and should have plenty more in his future as he will only turn 24 years old in September.
18. Detlef Schrempf
Before he became a star of "Parks and Recreation," Detlef Schrempf was also the first German-born player in the NBA and was a key starter of the Seattle Sonic teams that dominated the West throughout the 1990s.
Schrempf was a wildly efficient shooter, as evidenced by his 49 percent career field-goal percentage and 39 percent three-point percentage. In the 1994-95 season, Schrempf converted an incredible 51 percent of his three-pointers on 181 attempts. It was the highest three-point percentage he ever shot and it went along with the most three-pointers he ever attempted in a season.
He'd go on to convert 41 percent of his 179 three-point attempts the next season.
Schrempf would be the starting small forward for the Sonics from 1993 to 1999 and would drop heavy numbers in every significant category, averaging at least 15 points, five rebounds and four assists per for three consecutive seasons.
He'd play on two All-Star teams while with Seattle and would earn All-NBA Third team honors in '95.
Before he joined Seattle, Schrempf won back-to-back Sixth Man of the Year awards with the Indiana Pacers.
17. Nate McMillan
Nate McMillan is the definition of a player whose stats don't nearly tell the full story.
Because even though he never dropped more than eight points per game, McMillan was still an excellent facilitator and an even better defender. He averaged as much as 9.3 assists per, coming in only his third year, and would lead the league in steals per with three as a 29-year-old in 1994.
McMillan's hands earned him back-to-back nods to the NBA All-Defensive second team in 1994 and 1995.
Like many of the other Sonics on this list, McMillan was also a member of the teams that contended for championships throughout the 1990s. He would play in 19 games during their title run in 1996, converting 48 percent of his three-pointers in 20 minutes per off the bench.
With his entire NBA playing career taking place in Seattle, McMillan would have his No. 10 jersey retired by the franchise.
16. Slick Watts
Equipped with possibly the greatest name ever, Slick Watts spent the first four-and-a-half years of his short six-year career with the Sonics.
In his time with the club, Watts would make a name for himself as a facilitator and fierce defender. He was a member of the the team in the early 1970s and would earn All-Defensive First team honors in 1976 after a career year where he led the league in steals with 3.2 per game.
Along with the high-mark for steals, Watts also led the league in assists per with 8.1. On top of that, he also averaged 13 points per on 43 percent shooting.
15. Bob Rule
An underrated member of the early Seattle teams from the late 1960s, Bob Rule spent the most productive years of his career early on with the Sonics.
For the first three of his career, Rule was a walking double-double. He was on the All-Rookie first team after averaging 18.1 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest and was on the All-Star team by his third year. By that point, Rule was averaging 24.6 points and 10.3 points.
He set a franchise record for most points by a rookie after dropping 47 points on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Rule was on his way to contending with the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, but an achilles injury in 1971 would put an end to those hopes and his career would never be the same after that.
14. Xavier McDaniel
The fourth overall pick of the 1985 draft, Xavier McDaniel was Seattle's starting small forward for the first three years of his career before becoming the team's sixth man.
As he showed off in those first three years, McDaniel was able to acclimate quickly to his new role, and would average 20 points and five rebounds per as the sixth man. Before then, however, McDaniel had already set his career-high in points with 23 points per, setting the mark in only his second season.
McDaniel was among a trio of Sonics to average at least 20 points in the same year, with Tom Chambers and Dale Ellis being the others.
He was a member of the All-Rookie first team on account of the 17.1 points and eight rebounds he was dropping, and would make the his only All-Star game two years later.
13. James Harden
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Curse the CBA for breaking this trio up. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden were going to take the league by storm if not for the revised CBA attempting to limit the amount of stars a franchise could withhold.
Harden spent three years with the Oklahoma City Thunder, mainly as the sixth man, and it was clear and evident then that he was far more than a productive scorer off the bench. He showed that in his first season in Houston, where he averaged nearly 26 points and shot 44 percent overall and 37 percent from three.
With the Thunder, Harden would earn Sixth Man of the Year honors in 2012 after averaging 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists. He would play a huge role during the Thunder's postseason run, shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc, but would run out of gas in the Finals.
He would also add the honor of making it to the All-Rookie second team after averaging 9.9 points and shooting 38 percent from beyond the arc as Oklahoma City's sixth man.
12. Gus Williams
A vastly underrated player, due to the lack of interest in the NBA throughout the 1970s, Gus Johnson played a key role on the Seattle team that would defeat Washington in the 1979 NBA Finals.
Johnson, who ranks 23rd all-time in steals, played with Seattle from 1977 to 1984 and would have his best years come as a member of the Sonics. In 1982, he averaged a career-high 23.4 points to go along with 6.9 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 steals per.
Naturally, he'd earn a nod to the All-Star team. He would earn another, his last one, the next year, too. 1982 would be a huge year for Johnson as he would also earn a spot on the All-NBA First team and would finish fifth in MVP voting.
Williams has the second-most amount of steals in a single game, taking away ten in a 1978 game with the New Jersey Nets where he also scored 31 points.
Johnson was also a member of the All-NBA second team in 1980.
11. Spencer Haywood
As a rookie in the ABA with the Denver Rockets, Spencer Haywood averaged a league-high 30 points to go along with a league-high 19.5 points.
He was the ABA All-Star Game MVP, league MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season. This came after Haywood spent only one year in college, where he averaged 32 points and 22 rebounds at the University of Detroit.
That was more than enough to see for Seattle, who would promptly bring him over to the NBA the very next season. He'd only play 33 games in his first year with the Sonics, but would showcase his ability to adjust to the NBA with four consecutive seasons of averaging at a double-double.
Haywood would top off in 1973 after averaging 29.2 points and 12.9 rebounds.
In his time with Seattle, Haywood would play on four All-Star teams, make it on two All-NBA first teams, two All-NBA second teams and would finish as high as fifth in MVP voting in 1972.
Haywood eventually went on to win a title with the Los Angeles Lakers in 1980.
10. Rashard Lewis
Taken out of high school and spending the first nine years of his career in Seattle, Rashard Lewis made a name for himself as one of the league's most feared shooting bigs.
At 6'10", Lewis played as Seattle's small forward and would assist the team as one of their primary perimeter threats. Once Ray Allen arrived from Milwaukee, the tandem would combine to form one of the league's most feared offenses.
Lewis would average as much as 22.4 points, coming in his final season with Seattle, and would shoot as well as 43 percent from beyond the arc. In his first year making the All-Star team in 2005, Lewis would average over 20 points for the first time in his career and would shoot an impressive 40 percent on over six three-point attempts per.
He'd average at least 15 points in seven consecutive seasons with Seattle.
Since leaving the Sonics, he has played in two NBA Finals, winning one this past season with the Miami Heat.
9. Dennis Johnson
Mostly known as the point guard who played alongside Larry Bird of the 1980s' Boston Celtics, Dennis Johnson was actually once recognized as a primary scoring threat in the early portion of his career with Seattle.
Johnson spent the first four years of his career with Seattle, with no year bigger than his third when he ended up taking the Sonics to their first-and-only NBA title. Johnson was the Finals MVP after leading his team to a five-game series victory over the Washington Bullets.
He was already averaging 15.9 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists per that season, but would continue to develop and would drop a then career-high of 19 points per game in what would turn out to be his final year with Seattle.
By that point, Johnson had already made two All-Defensive First teams, an All-NBA second team and two All-Star teams. He'd also finish as high as fifth in MVP voting.
Johnson would go onto win two titles with the Boston Celtics, but was hardly the primary threat he was when with Seattle.
8. Shawn Kemp
A devastatingly violent athlete, it's a shock that Shawn Kemp was never able to tear down at least one rim during his NBA career.
Before he let himself go in Cleveland, Kemp was a superstar athlete for the Sonic teams of the 1990s that constantly threatened to win a championship. He played the perfect complement to Hall of Fame point guard Gary Payton, who enabled one of the most feared little-big duos of the glory years of the NBA.
A graduate of Trinity Community College, Kemp spent the first eight seasons of his career with Seattle and would represent the team in five All-Star games. He'd also make it onto three All-NBA second teams and would finish as high as seventh in MVP voting, coming in 1994 when he dropped 18.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per.
Kemp would average a double-double in six consecutive seasons, with his best statistical season coming in 1996, the year Seattle advanced to the NBA Finals, when he averaged 19.6 points and 11.4 rebounds per game. He'd also shoot a career-high 56 percent from the field.
His numbers were consistently great with the Sonics, but he will always be revered for his monstrous dunks that inspired the moniker, 'Reign Man'.
7. Dale Ellis
In two separate stints with the Sonics, once during the prime of his career and the other in his late-30s, Dale Ellis proved to the NBA why he was one of the league's most feared shooters and scorers.
A 6'7" guard/forward, Ellis would explode in Seattle after three quiet seasons with the Dallas Mavericks, the team that originally drafted him. After three consecutive years of coming off the bench to average less than ten points per game, Ellis would drop at least 23 points per in his first four seasons with Seattle, including a career-high 27.5 points per game in 1989.
In the year he set his career-scoring high, Ellis would convert 48 percent of his four three-point attempts per game.
1989 represented the only season Ellis would make an All-Star game. He would also make the All-NBA third team. Among other honors, he also won the league's Most Improved Player after going from averaging 7.1 points on 41 percent overall shooting with Dallas in 1986 to 24.9 points on 52 percent shooting in 1987.
Ellis would shoot at least 50 percent from the field in his first three seasons with the Sonics, and would come a few percentage points short of doing it a fourth consecutive year.
He would be traded midway through the 1990-91 season after struggles with his shot, but would find his way back to Seattle in 1998 as a 37-year-old sixth man. In his role, Ellis would lead the league in three-point percentage, shooting 46 percent on nearly four three-point attempts per contest.
He'd play one more season with the Sonics and would naturally shoot 43 percent from beyond the arc.
Ellis finished his career as a 40 percent three-point shooter.
6. Russell Westbrook
Another lottery pick of the Thunder's gone superstar, Russell Westbrook could be a primary scoring option on 90 percent of the league's rosters.
Instead, he continues to share the scoring responsibility with Kevin Durant, leaving a championship always in the cards. Before suffering a playoff-ending knee injury last season, Westbrook and Durant were prepared to challenge for a second consecutive representation of the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.
They'll just have to wait until this year. And probably the year after that. And the year after that, too. These are the benefits of having your two best players 25 years old or younger.
The 24-year-old Westbrook has only needed five years of NBA time to become not only the league's most explosive player, but also arguably the league's top point guard. Despite claims that he isn't a point guard, Westbrook has averaged seven assists for his career, including averages of at least 7.4 assists per in three of the past four seasons.
On top of high assist numbers, Westbrook's scoring totals have only increased since his drafting as the fourth pick in the 2008 draft. He has averaged at least 21 points in the past three seasons, most recently averaging 23.2 points on 44 percent shooting in the 2012-13 campaign.
Westbrook's top performance with the Thunder came in their NBA Finals loss to the Heat, where he dropped a stunning 43 points in a Game 3 loss where Russell became a one man wrecking crew.
He has been a part of three All-Star teams and three All-NBA Second teams, while finishing as high as ninth in MVP voting this past season.
5. Jack Sikma
One of the most underrated centers to play the game, Jack Sikma emerged as a perennial double-double from the moment he stepped onto an NBA court and donned a Sonics uniform.
Sikma would make it onto the All-Rookie First team after averaging 10.7 points and 8.3 rebounds.
Following that rookie season, Sikma would average a double-double in seven consecutive seasons with Seattle, including a career-high 19.6 points and a career-high 12.7 rebounds per in the 1981-82 season. He would earn All-Defensive second team honors that year and would finish ninth in MVP voting.
He would finish as high as seventh in MVP voting in only his second season, the same year the Sonics would win their first and only NBA title.
Sikma made it onto seven All-Star teams, all with the Sonics, and would make a name for himself as one of the more unconventional centers in the history of the game. As a 6'11" center, Sikma would play in every single game of his career for the first five years of his career and would only miss 23 games in nine years with Seattle.
On top of that, he'd also average as much as four assists per game. In fact, he averaged better than three assists per in eight consecutive seasons with the Sonics.
4. Ray Allen
There are some interestingly strong ties between the Seattle Sonics organization and the Miami Heat.
Whether it's Gary Payton winning his first and only ring with the Heat in 2006 or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook becoming the Heat's primary competition in the NBA Finals for who knows how long, the Heat and Thunder/Sonics have strong linkages despite being 3,000 miles away from each other.
You may also remember some ardent Sonics' supporters being seated behind the Thunder bench during the 2012 Finals. Naturally, they cheered on the Heat.
In another link between the Heat and Sonics, Ray Allen, one of Seattle's greatest scorers, recently played a key role as a perimeter threat for the Miami team that just won the 2013 NBA championship.
Although Allen hit the big shot of the '13 Finals, his best years came with the Sonics in the prime of his career. It was with the Sonics that he'd average a career-high 26 points per game with. It was with the Sonics where he'd shoot a staggering 41 percent from beyond the arc on over eight three-point attempts per game. It was with the Sonics where he'd actually be recognized as an MVP candidate, finishing ninth in 2005.
Ray would only spend four-and-a-half seasons with the Sonics, but that doesn't keep them from being memorable. Allen tied the all-time high for points in a playoff game with 45 in a win over the Sacramento Kings that featured him shooting 17-of-28 from the field and 6-of-14 from beyond the arc.
He made a name for himself with the seemingly impossible game-winners he would hit.
Allen would move on to play for the Boston Celtics, a member of the dominant Celtics "Big Three," where he would win his first championship in 2008.
3. Fred Brown
The all-time franchise leader in points, games played, field goals and free throws, Fred Brown is one of the league's most underrated players after spending all 13 years of his productive career with the Seattle Sonics.
Originally drafted as the sixth pick in the 1971 draft, Brown would play 13 seasons as Seattle's shooting guard, consistently averaging at least 16 points per game from 1974 to 1978. He'd average a career-high 23 points in 1976, topped off by a career playoff-high 45 points in a Game 2 loss to the Phoenix Suns.
Not only is the 45 points tied for the most in franchise history, but he still owns the record for most points in a single game. In 1974, only his third year in the league, Brown would drop 58 points in a two-point win over the Golden State Warriors, dropping 24 field goals and shooting 10-of-13 from the foul line.
To hold the all-time scoring record for a franchise that has featured the likes of Ray Allen and Kevin Durant, Fred Brown deserves some more recognition as one of the league's top scorers of the 1970s.
Brown would be a member of the 1979 championship team, would make it onto the 1976 All-Star team and would lead the league in three-point percentage in 1980 after shooting 44 percent.
Also, like Gus Williams Brown is also tied for second for the most steals in a single game. He also had 10 steals in a win over the Philadelphia 76ers, with eight alone coming in the first half.
He'd finish his Sonics career averaging 14.6 points, 3.3 assists and 2.7 rebounds per.
2. Kevin Durant
Give it another year or two, plus a championship, and Kevin Durant will end up as the top player to ever don a Seattle Sonics/Oklahoma City Thunder uniform.
Taken with the second pick in the 2007 draft, Durant has lived up to and beyond all worldly expectations as he has been a dominant scorer from the moment he stepped into the NBA playing field as a 19-year-old.
Durant has averaged at least 20 points per game in all six years of his career, and became the youngest player to win the scoring title after averaging a staggering 30.1 points per game as a 21-year-old in only his third year.
To prove that it was no fluke, he did it again. To prove that was no fluke, he would do it a third consecutive time.
And if it wasn't for Carmelo Anthony going absolutely insane near the end of the 2012-13 season, Durant would be the winner of four consecutive scoring titles. He came a few percentage points short of besting Anthony.
Nevertheless, Durant has provided the Thunder with the most sustained success they have seen since the Gary Payton-Shawn Kemp led Sonics. He led Oklahoma City to their first NBA Finals appearance since 1996 in 2012, but came up short and succumbing in five games to a powerhouse Miami Heat team.
Durant averaged over 30 points per game on better than 50 percent shooting from the field, despite heavy defense from the likes of Shane Battier, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James. If not for a few certain circumstances, such as James Harden essentially disappearing, Durant could have been an NBA champion by the time he was 23.
As long as Durant is on the squad, however, the Thunder are going to continue to be championship contenders, as they are this upcoming season.
Durant is averaging 26.6 points on 48 percent overall shooting and 38 percent three-point shooting, 6.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists per over his career. He has already finished second in MVP voting three times, including the past two seasons, has made four consecutive All-NBA first teams, has played for four All-Star teams and won Rookie of the Year.
1. Gary Payton
When you hold Michael Jordan to arguably his worst playoff performance, you deserve extra points when being recognized as a significant part of your franchise.
Gary Payton, a 6'4" point guard, held Jordan to 6-of-19 shooting in a closeout game that would have given the Chicago Bulls a clean sweep in the 1996 NBA Finals. This comes after Jordan was busy lighting up other Seattle Sonics defenders, while Payton dealt with a calf injury that kept coach George Karl from putting him on Michael.
While holding Jordan to 23 points on 32 percent shooting, Payton went off for 21 points and 11 assists. Although the Sonics would end up losing in six games to the historic Bulls team that won 72 games, they made it respectable by winning back-to-back games by double-digits and limiting Jordan to two of his poorest performances of the playoffs, including 5-of-19 shooting in Game 6.
But those are only a few examples of Payton's influence as a defender. He was so revered as a defender that he's one of the few non-centers/power forwards to win a Defensive Player of the Year award, taking it in 1996 after averaging a league-leading 2.9 steals per.
Payton averaged at least 2.2 steals per game from 1993 to 1999. He made it onto nine All-Defensive first teams, two All-NBA first teams, five All-NBA second teams, two All-NBA third teams and nine All-Star teams. He would finish as high as third in MVP voting.
He was also one of the league's leading ironmen, missing only two games over the first eight years of his career.
Like a fine wine, Payton only seemed to get better with age as he wound up averaging 24 and 23 points per game in 2000 and 2001, respectively, as a 31-year-old and 32-year-old. Along with the 24 points he averaged in 2000, he also dished out 8.9 dimes and a career-high 6.5 rebounds per.
There was truly nothing "The Glove" couldn't do. He spent the first 13.5 seasons of his career with Seattle, initially being drafted second in the 1990 draft.
Following his tenure with Seattle, he'd go ring-chasing with a number of teams, before finally getting what he had worked for in 2006 when winning a championship with the Miami Heat.