As a youngster, Gary Payton used to sneak into the Oakland Coliseum, especially when the San Antonio Spurs were playing the Golden State Warriors.
He had to watch his idol, George Gervin.
Payton had posters of “The Iceman” on his wall and trading cards as well.
As he was watching Gervin play, Payton never could have imagined that some 30 years later he would be standing alongside his idol as he himself was enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
But there he was on Sunday as the former Oregon State University standout capped his brilliant career with his place in the Hall.
Well, OK, maybe he could picture it way back then.
“As players we dream of this moment, but we don’t expect to be standing here,” Payton said in his speech. “But I really, really liked my chances of being here. It’s amazing, this is really happening for me.”
Payton, who later was nicknamed “The Glove” because of his defensive tenacity, played nearly 13 of his 17 pro seasons with the Seattle SuperSonics. He was an All-Star nine times, a member of the All-Defensive first team nine times and averaged 16.3 points.
He won a championship in 2006 with the Miami Heat.
He is the only NBA player with 20,000 points, 8,000 assists, 5,000 rebounds and 2,000 steals.
Payton said he learned to play defense during his time at Oregon State, when he played for Ralph Miller and later for Jimmy Anderson.
“I dedicate this night to my late college coach Ralph Miller,” Payton said. “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 (your wife) are wonderful.”
Payton talked about his childhood. He began playing basketball on the playgrounds in Oakland when he was 7.
He shared about overcoming obstacles in high school. How he struggled making grades and how he missed playing his entire sophomore year.
“At this moment, I understand the reason for those hurdles, and I appreciate the silver lining that followed,” Payton said.
Payton started every game while he was at OSU, finishing his career averaging 18.1 points per game.
He was selected the national player of the year by Sports Illustrated in 1990, and was a consensus first-team All-American.
Payton was drafted second overall by the Seattle SuperSonics, and he helped lead them to the 1996 NBA Finals.
Many will remember all of those lob passes to teammate Shawn Kemp for thunderous dunks.
“You all talk about that lob city over there with the Clippers,” Payton said, “(but) we was the original lob city.”
Payton was also known for running his mouth whenever he could. It was his way to get in the heads of opposing players and give him and edge.
He showed a little of that bravado Sunday as well.
“And don’t forget, I am the greatest trash talker of all time, Reggie,” Payton said, referencing former NBA great Reggie Miller, who also wasn’t afraid to talk from time to time.
Still, he knows that style rubbed some people the wrong way.
“Few things meant as much to me as my ability to play this game. I bared my soul on the court, I played hard because I wanted to win every time. And sometimes I didn’t come off so pretty,” Payton said. “I said things I know I can’t repeat here.
“Listen, I really didn’t mean any harm, at least not bodily. I’m sure there are some coaches, teammates, opponents, referees and probably management out there who might feel otherwise though.
“It was all for my crazy love for the game and my lack of maturity to be able to express my passion any other way. I don’t regret the way I went about it, and I am a strong man today as a result.
“I can’t help but think I could have given more to the game that gave so much to me. My career is complete. Gary Payton is evolving, but GP is in the Hall of Fame.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.