Posts Tagged ‘Gary Payton’

Hall Enshrinement Especially Meaningful


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The emotions that filled Symphony Hall were as in-your-face as Gary Payton, as persistent as Jerry Tarkanian, as touching as the words of Elvin Hayes, as dignified as the memory of Roger Brown and with as much flair for the dramatic as Oscar Schmidt.

By the time the 12 new members of the Hall of Fame gathered on stage Sunday afternoon for the traditional group shot to conclude the enshrinement festivities, something was clearly different. Every year is unique, of course — Reggie Miller tugging at hearts, the sideshow that is Dennis Rodman, the sparkle of the Dream Team reuniting for a group induction. Not like this, though.

This meant something unlike any other time in recent years.

Tarkanian is fighting serious health issues. His family said they specifically noticed an improvement after the coach, best known for his work at UNLV, got word in the spring he would be inducted. As the ceremony approached, and he fought back after a scare, it seemed to be another boost. Once “Tark” got here, after all the years of refusing to be worn down by the NCAA, after previously coming off the Hall ballot from a lack of support, he got an embrace that was one of the warmest moments of the last several enshrinements.

His wife read a note from Jerry in a taped acceptance speech and the 83-year-old Tarkanian added a few sentences on his own in a weak voice: “I have loved the game of basketball since my earliest memories. Basketball has been good to me. I’ve been able to be comrades with some fine individuals in the coaching profession. Sure we can be firey and competitive, even argumentative, but we all loved the game. That special game of basketball. Deep down, we’ll … understand the other. Thank you for your friendship. Finally, thank you, Hall of Fame, for giving me a special honor. It means so much to me, to our players, fans, coaches and staff. We are part of you. That makes us very happy and very proud.”

The standing ovation started before the house lights were all the way up. He came on stage with a walker, next to his presenters, Bill Walton and Pete Carril. And when Tark turned to face the audience, the cheers got even louder.

Guy V. Lewis is having difficult days, too. The 91-year-old former University of Houston coach was unable to speak, leaving it to Hayes, sitting next to Lewis, to deliver an eloquent taped tribute to his former coach. When Lewis was brought on stage in a wheelchair and moved in front of three of his Cougars — Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and the Big E — the crowd responded with loud applause in tribute.

When North Carolina women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell got her turn, she noted how Pat Summitt was supposed to be one of her presenters, only to have to decline when the former coaching legend of the Tennessee Lady Vols, forced into retirement by early-onset dementia, was unable to make the trip. Hatchell asked the audience to send Summitt needed support with a round of applause that could come through the television. Done.

Brown’s family got to see the former Pacers star inducted posthumously as a deserving salute after he had been banned by the NBA as a college freshman and spent years playing AAU ball before joining the fledgling ABA. This day was a vindication.

Schmidt was here about 4 ½ months after a second surgery to remove a brain tumor. Ever the showman, he stepped to the podium, closed his eyes and stood in silence for about 14 seconds before speaking. Having already described how he was so overwhelmed to get news of his election while driving that he had to pull over, having already called the weekend the highlight of his career, the former Brazilian scoring sensation delivered a speech of humor — an appreciation for his presenter, Larry Bird, and ultimately choking up and getting watery eyes when speaking to his wife in the audience.

Payton walked the red carpet upon arrival with close friends Jason Kidd and Brian Shaw — and John Stockton was one of his presenters — so there needed to be a pickup game for the ages going on somewhere after the ceremony. The acceptance speech that eventually followed was exactly what Payton promised, with a little from his alter-ego “The Glove,” the trash-talking point guard playing with a chip on his shoulder, and the mature older man he wanted to show off to make the ceremony mean something more than enshrinement.

The Glove: “As players, we dream of this moment, but we don’t expect to be standing here. But I really, really liked my chances of being here. It’s amazing. This is really happening for me.”

Mature older man: “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. I said things I know I can’t repeat. Plus, I don’t want the guys in the booth to say I can’t say it. So it’s good. 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’m a strong man today as a result. But I can’t help but think I could have given more to the game that have so much to me. My career is complete. Gary Payton is evolving. But GP is in the Hall of Fame. Thank you.”

Payton: Stockton’s Game Spoke Loudest


Any list of the NBA’s most notorious trash-talkers would be incomplete – wait, no, it would be an absolute, bleepin’ waste of time – if Gary Payton’s name weren’t atop it. In his Hall of Fame career with the Seattle SuperSonics (and four other clubs), white-hot and often profane on-court chatter was to Payton what long hair was to Samson, as much the source of his greatness as it was the soundtrack of his game.

But there’s more than one way to rattle an opponent. As Payton reflected on his NBA achievements and fast-approaching enshrinement in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame — he’ll join the Class of 2013 Sunday (2 p.m. ET, NBA TV) at the ceremony in Springfield, Mass. — he saved his highest praise for a stone-faced rival who never engaged in much hardwood banter.

In 19 seasons with the Utah Jazz, point guard John Stockton didn’t need to move his lips when he read, whether situations, openings or opportunities.

“Never,” Payton said of Stockton in a Q&A interview with Marc Spears of Yahoo! Sports. “That is the reason I really respected him because you never could get in his head. He’s the hardest person I ever had to guard. I tried to talk to him, try to do something and he’d just look at me, set a pick and cause me [to get mad and] get a tech. And then all of the sudden it was over.”

Payton reiterated in an interview with NBA TV’s Kevin Calabro that no matter how much he would talk to Stockton during games, the Utah point guard would go about his business as if nothing happened.

Payton said Stockton’s no-nonsense approach taught him a lot. It also prompted Payton to seek out the Hall of Famer as one of his two presenters for Sunday’s event — new inductees are presented by previously enshrined players or coaches, and Payton will be ushered in by Stockton and legendary NBA/ABA scorer George “Iceman” Gervin.

Payton made them sound like easy choices, telling Spears:

“George Gervin was my childhood idol since I was little. In Oakland I had all his posters on my wall. The Iceman poster where he was on ice blocks in that silver suit. He presented to all my other Hall of Fame stuff for retired jerseys at Oregon State and my high school. John Stockton is because I liked him when I was playing basketball. Everyone said he was dirty. He wasn’t as athletic as us. But he was smarter than us. We knew what he was going to do. We knew he was going to set [tough] picks. We had all the videos on Utah. We were so dumb. We would get caught up with the picks and get mad at him. He would shoot eight times and make nine. Shoot eight free throws and make seven. He’d have 15 assists and four steals. A complete game. That’s just the way he was and I idolized him…”

Payton idolized Stockton in his own way, of course, jabbering as if it was a natural part of inhaling and exhaling while building his reputation as one of the greatest two-way backcourt players in league history. HTB denizen Scott Howard-Cooper talked with Payton recently, too, and got the goods on how close the NBA and its fans came to missing out on his skills and his feistiness.

Spears touched on other topics, including this notion that, for Payton, guarding Stockton was tougher than facing Michael Jordan. (When Jordan reads this, he might ask to edit and re-give his famously competitive Springfield speech, to put Payton in his place):

“Those battles were a little easier. I would have Jordan get mad at me and go back at me. He knew he was really talented and could do whatever he wanted to. But [Stockton] was more of a challenge to me than guarding someone that would talk back to me. When you talk back to me and say something to me it made my game go to another level. John was one who wouldn’t say nothing and you couldn’t figure him out. He’d keep going in the pick and rolls and he and Karl Malone would score a big bucket. At times I would guard Jordan and get him mad and into other things.”

Payton, 45, shared other opinions, including his appreciation of Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams (“same mentality as me”) and Boston’s Rajon Rondo. “He can’t score like I did but he does everything else like I did,” said the nine-time All-Star and No. 2 pick in the 1990 draft.

He talked about Dwight Howard leaving the Los Angeles Lakers and about the Sonics leaving for Oklahoma City, where Payton isn’t interested in having his No. 20 jersey retired to the rafters. That, he believes, should and will happen in Seattle.

“It will be there sooner or later,” Payton said. “It could be years. If I’m 70 and they get a team, hey, so be it. It will be great just as long as it will go up in Seattle.”

And the pesky, pain-in-the-rump playmaker known defensively as “The Glove” talked about his own induction speech. Too bad he won’t be making it as performance art — just imagine the entire speech given in trash-talk cadence and (ahem) vocabulary, challenging as that might be for the NBA TV producers.

Fact is, the guy whose patter could move some opponents nearly to tears might find himself on the other end of things, in that stage-light moment of memories, accomplishments and appreciative faces smiling back at him.

“Everybody wants to know if I’m going to cry,” Payton told Yahoo Sports. “You know what? I’m going to be real with you. I don’t think I’m going to cry. But I got to stay away from watching my mom because if she starts tearing up … That’s the hardest mama in the world to make cry. If she tears up and cries?

“I know Pops ain’t gonna tear up. If he does it, it’s just a bad thing. I’m just going to stay focused and look forward and try not to look anybody in their face.”

Should he need to, Payton can always glance across the stage. That’s where the guy with the stone face will be standing, a source of the edge with which Payton played and that he might need again to speechify.

Payton Nearly Quit Early In His Career


HANG TIME WEST – Hall of Famer Gary Payton was so down on himself as a player and so frustrated with the coaching situation in Seattle early in his career that he came close to retiring after his rookie season, he told on Wednesday.

“I was thinking about it,” Payton said in a phone conversation from his home in Las Vegas. “I was like, ‘What am I out here for? This isn’t even what I want to do. I’m not happy.’ I didn’t want to do anything….”

Payton played well enough in 1990-91 to be voted second-team All-Rookie, but the 7.2 points and 6.4 assists for a 41-41 team that finished one place lower in the Pacific Division than the season before was not up to the standards he set for himself as the No. 2 pick in the draft. It was being the starter without getting true starter’s minutes, though, that truly bothered him, the 27.4 minutes per that led him to feel a lack of support from coach K.C. Jones.

Owner Barry Ackerley convinced Payton the SuperSonics believed in the young point guard, agent Aaron Goodwin and Payton’s father told Payton to give it time, and so he returned rather than retire or try to force a trade. Jones was fired 36 games into the next season and replaced by George Karl. And when that change included Tim Grgurich coming as an assistant, Payton would meet his destiny as one of the great two-way guards in history.

“If we wouldn’t have changed coaches,” Payton said, “I would have probably said, ‘Yo, you know what? I want to end this. I don’t want to do this anymore because I’m not happy.’ If they would have stayed with the same coach, I would have probably just shut it down. They would have tried to trade me or I would have told them I don’t want to play there anymore.

“I went to my agent, I went to my father, I just said, ‘I don’t know. I don’t know if I’m good enough to play in this league. I’ve got a coach who wants to play me in the first and the third quarter. He has no confidence in me.’ They told me the same thing. ‘You’ve got to stick it out. You’ve got to be the guy who you’re supposed to be. You’re tough. You’re this.’ My father was like, ‘Are you crazy? If you quit, I’m gonna get in your (body).’ Stuff like that. He’s like, ‘It’s going to be better. You’ve got to dedicate yourself to it.’ As soon as coach Grg came there, I changed my whole mentality. I went back to the guy that I was at Oregon State and the guy that I was in Oakland, California (his hometown).”

Karl and Grgurich, who would become a familiar pairing as one of the most-respected head coaches and assistants in the NBA, lasted through 1997-98 while winning four Pacific Division titles and the 1996 Western Conference crown. Payton stayed until Feb. 20, 2003, when he was traded to the Bucks and reunited with Karl.

Payton retired — actually retired — after the 2006-07 season, following a championship with the Heat, nine All-Star appearances, nine consecutive spots on the All-Defense team, one Defensive Player of the Year, and two Olympic gold medals. His first-ballot election to the Hall of Fame was announced in February. Payton will be officially enshrined with the Class of 2013 in ceremonies Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass.

Wizards’ Wall Working With The Glove

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Dwight Howard and other big men around the NBA haven’t been shy about approaching Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon for tutoring in recent summers.

We haven’t heard much about the point guards finding a Hall of Famer to serve in a similar capacity, until now. And that’s one of the reasons why I have no problem with the Washington Wizards putting their faith in John Wall (to the tune of the reported five-year, $80 million extension he signed last week).

Wall plans on learning from one of the best in Hall of Famer Gary Payton, according to J. Michael of CSN Washington:

Wall still plans to hook up with Gary Payton, a Hall of Fame point guard who was one of the best of his generation, in Seattle before returning to train with the Wizards on Aug. 20. Plus, he had ample time to watch the nuances of Tony Parker as he led the San Antonio Spurs to the NBA finals and the Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Conley, who helped his team advance to the Western Conference finals.

“Footwork also, just like catching the ball and working on pivots and stuff,” Wall said about what he has done this off-season in addition to refining jump shot. “Floaters. Watched a lot of Tony Parker throughout the playoffs and I see how Mike Conley added to his game after I went to two of his playoff series.”

Wall also is going to lobby coach Randy Wittman to allow him to do something else.

“Hopefully I’ll get an opportunity to post up this year,” he said.

That’s where Payton, who also stood 6-4 and could be too physical for opposing point guards, could help most. Like Wall, he wasn’t the best jump shooter to start his career but became a solid one. By his fourth season, Payton shot better than 50% from the field. He only was a career 31.7% shooter from three.

If Wall’s career is on a similar trajectory  to Payton’s at the same stage, the confidence Wall and the Wizards are showing in each other right now won’t seem nearly as far-fetched as it sounds to some.

“My main thing as a person, I’m not a follower. I like to be a leader,” Wall said during his news conference last week. “I feel like I would have had the opportunity to go anywhere. I feel like I’d be a follower trying to build a legacy somewhere else. I feel like I’m a person who gives my word and my commitment to where I started and that’s where I’d like to finish.

“We haven’t been to the promised land of winning a championship for years. I know we’re a long way from there, but that’s my main goal before my career is done, to win one here.”

Again, those are ambitious words from a youngster who has never been an All-Star or even been to the playoffs. But the fact that Wall is going down this path, in theory and in practice, bodes well for the Wizards and their fans.

Lots of guys talk about being leaders, of doing things the right way. Wall is doing his best to live it, to embody the leadership traits that an elder like Payton did when he became one of the game’s all-time greats.

Spurs’ Path To Success Still One Of A Kind

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Don’t bother trying to get a peek at the blueprints. There’s nothing you can glean from San Antonio Spurs’ secret formula that will work for your team.

No two championship teams are built alike, unless you are the Spurs and all four of your title-winning teams have an identical foundation: Tim Duncan at the epicenter with coach Gregg Popovich and GM R.C. Buford at the controls.

Those same building blocks, along with future Hall of Famers Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, have allowed the Western Conference-champion Spurs to chase title No. 5 this season. This current Spurs team highlights a ridiculously rewarding 15-year run that transcends this “win-now-and-at-whatever-cost” era that has claimed so many other organizations that were unable to sustain a level of excellence with the same parts.

The only organization with a better championship track record during this same era is that other would-be dynasty in Los Angeles. But the while the Spurs are going to contend with either Miami or Indiana for the Larry O’Brien trophy next month, the Lakers entered an offseason of uncertainty with Kobe Bryant on the mend from Achilles surgery and Dwight Howard‘s free-agency drama looming. It makes you wonder what might have been if the Lakers had been able to manage the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe dynamic and if coach Phil Jackson had stayed entrenched in the organization from the time they started winning championships until now.

What the Spurs have accomplished, however, is not up for debate. They’ve defied logic, the odds and the age of their biggest stars to reach the opportunity to compete for another title when they could have torn those franchise blueprints up a half-dozen times and started over from scratch.

The contrast in styles between the Spurs and Lakers is startling, albeit with nearly identical results for two franchises whose accomplishments the past 15 seasons will come to define an era in NBA history.

The Spurs stuck to their principles with a meticulously crafted core of stars and a series of role players who generally played better in San Antonio than they did elsewhere. The Lakers tried to reinvent themselves regularly (selling their organizational soul in the process, some would say) to keep the pace with their rivals in South Texas.

Don’t forget, the Spurs tipped off the championship chase in 1999 with Duncan and David Robinson, followed by the first of the three straight Shaq-Kobe title teams a year later.

In a copycat league where everything from the locker room set up to the analytics department is modeled on a nearly identical template from organization to organization, no one has been able to build a sturdier and more consistent operation than the Spurs.

It starts with having a transcendent superstar like Duncan, whose arrival sparked the Spurs’ renaissance. Add in unwavering discipline in the front office and on the bench (in Popovich and Buford), some splendid ownership (Peter Holt) and a market conducive to staying the course (rather than overreacting to the usual ebb and flow of the league) and San Antonio’s success was born.

The Spurs haven’t been to The Finals since winning their fourth title in 2007. Six years? That is an eternity in professional sports. Not many franchises would have survived the fallout from their Western Conference finals flame out against the Oklahoma City Thunder last year, when their juggernaut rolled into that series and led 2-0 before losing four straight games. Not many organizations with championship expectations would have (or could have) stayed the course in those other non-Finals years as well.

There’s no doubt the San Antonio market helps. There isn’t a rush to tear things down every offseason just for the sake of remodeling. The Lakers have changed course countless times during the same 15-year span, spending countless millions to and running through a series of coaches and role players to help them flesh out championship teams led by O’Neal and Bryant and later Bryant and Pau Gasol.

The Spurs understood that even with a power-packed outfit like the one they fielded during Duncan’s prime that there was no guarantee they’d win it all every season. That’s an understanding the Lakers never seemed to grasp during the early and mid-aughts.

The Lakers, spoiled a bit by those three straight titles in 2000, ’01 and ’02, tried to remodel overnight after watching the Spurs’ 2003 run. So they signed future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton in an attempt to chase a fourth ring and fell hard to the Detroit Pistons in The Finals in 2004 — the same team the Spurs beat in seven games a year later for the title.

Fast forward seven years later and the Spurs have four main pieces from that 2005 team — Duncan, Popovich, Parker and Ginobili — still on top of their respective games.

Those are the building blocks for a dynasty … the Spurs’ way!

Heat Stars Ready For Milwaukee Return

MIAMI — If anyone on the Miami Heat roster knows what to expect at the Bradley Center for Games 3 and 4 against of their first round playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks it’s Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen.

They’ve got intimate knowledge of the place, both of having been in the building when it’s an emotional power keg, when the hometown fans are cranked up and caught up in the atmosphere of a big game.

They’ll be on the other side this time, though, wearing the wrong colored jerseys for Game 3 Thursday night (7 ET, TNT). But that doesn’t change the fact that these games serve as a homecoming of sorts for these Heat stars whose careers took off in “Brew City.”

Wade came to town as an unheralded Marquette recruit and left a lottery pick, beloved by the locals as the star who helped restore a once proud program to national prominence. His college jersey hangs in the rafters of the arena, one of the retired numbers of the greats to have called the city home at some point.

Allen’s future Hall of Fame career started in Milwaukee, he played the first six and a half seasons of his career with the Bucks, helped them to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001 and earned three trips to the All-Star game as a Buck before being traded to Seattle in February of 2003.

“I went to Milwaukee with not a lot of expectations and I came out of Milwaukee the fifth pick of the Draft,” Wade said. “Milwaukee has been special to me. It has helped me get to this point. Going back there in the playoffs is a cool thing. It’s very humbling (having his jersey retired). Every time I look up there, I think about how far I have come. It’s special to be able to play in an arena where your jersey hangs.” (more…)

The World Reacts To Kobe’s Injury

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — The shocking news that Kobe Bryant‘s season came to an abrupt end with a probable torn left Achilles Friday night spread through the basketball world like an emotional tidal wave.

Pundits and fans, friends and foes alike, everyone is digesting the news that even if the Lakers make the playoffs, Bryant’s work this season is done. Reactions from around the basketball universe (and beyond):

Payton, King, Others Elected To Hall



Former scoring star Bernard King and coaches Jerry Tarkanian and Guy Lewis have been elected to the Hall of Fame after long waits as the Springfield, Mass., basketball museum continued its stated mission of new chances for candidates that have been overlooked in the past. Those three, along with expected inductee Gary Payton and active coach Rick Pitino, headline the Class of 2013.

Maurice Cheeks, Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Tom Heinsohn (as a coach, after previously making it as a player) and Mitch Richmond failed to receive at least 18 votes from 24 anonymous panelists from around the NBA and college game that decide the finalists from the North American committee.

In the other results announced Monday in Atlanta as part of the Final Four, North Carolina women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell and former star guard Dawn Staley were elected via the Women’s committee. They were the only finalists.

The just-announced inductees will be enshrined Sept. 8 in Springfield with the winners announced in February from other categories: Roger Brown (ABA), Edwin B. Henderson (Early African American Pioneers), Oscar Schmidt (International), Richard Guerin (Veterans) and Russ Granik (Contributor).

King’s election comes 20 years after his retirement, while Lewis, who coached 29 future NBA players at the University of Houston, left the sideline in 1986. Tarkanian last coached in 2002. Tarkanian, best known for his college work but also the coach of the Spurs for 20 games at the start of 1992-93, has been on the ballot so many times that he was removed for a lack of support before becoming eligible again this voting cycle.

Payton was the closest thing to a first-ballot automatic since Karl Malone and Scottie Pippen in 2010, an impossible candidate to deny after Dennis Rodman and then Reggie Miller both failed to make the finalist’s list their first year of eligibility but then went all the way to induction in the second. Being chosen for the All-Star game nine times and voted first-team All-Defense nine teams meant Payton would get no such rookie hazing.

The announcement of Pitino’s election came hours before his team, Louisville, will play for the national championship a few miles away in Atlanta. The former coach of the Knicks and Celtics is the only person to take three different schools to the men’s Final Four.

Chances For The 2013 Hall Of Fame Class

This is a little late because Mitch Richmond, a pretty decent source on the topic, already broke the news (via Twitter) that he did not get elected to the Hall of Fame. For most of the other candidates in the 2013 Hall of Fame class set to be unveiled Monday, uncertainty remains.

Gary Payton is in – according to someone close to the situation, in this case not named Richmond – and Richmond is out. In full disclosure, I would have had Payton as a lock (the only one) and given Richmond a good chance. That leaves eight from the North American committee to be revealed, seven with NBA ties plus college coach Guy Lewis.

Estimating the chances of the seven is a fool’s errand with Hall of Fame voting notoriously unpredictable, as proven by the fact that I would not have given Tom Heinsohn a shot to make the second and final stage of balloting as a coach. But based on decisions from recent years that (hopefully) give some indication of trends for this time, feedback from people around the game and the usual factor of the average 30-year fixed mortgage divided by the square root of the combined jersey numbers of the previous NBA champion multiplied by the wind velocity at City Hall in Springfield, Mass., at noon today, I am just that fool.

Maurice Cheeks

Hall of Fame Chances: Decent

Summary: Four-time All-Star, five-time All-Defense (four on the first-team), key member of the 1983 title team in Philadelphia, No. 5 all-time in steals.

Tim Hardaway

Hall of Fame Chances: Decent

Summary: Five-time All-Star, first-team All-NBA once, No. 13 in career assists, won an Olympic gold medal in 2000.

Spencer Haywood

Hall of Fame Chances: Good

Summary: Four-time NBA All-Star, averaged at least 20 points a game six times in the NBA, first-team All-NBA twice, member of 1980 championship team with the Lakers, ABA Rookie of the Year, ABA MVP, star of the 1968 Olympic team that won a gold medal (as he refused to join other African-American standouts in a boycott).

Tommy Heinsohn

Hall of Fame Chances: Poor

Summary: Nominated as a coach after being elected as a player in 1986. As a coach, won two championships with the Celtics, Coach of the Year, but only 427 career wins.

Bernard King

Hall of Fame Chances: Good

Summary: Averaged 22.5 ppg in his career, one of the premier offensive threats from the late-1970s through the early-1990s despite major knee injuries, four-time All-Star, two-time first-team All-NBA, Comeback Player of the Year.

Gary Payton

Original Hall of Fame chances: Lock

Updated Hall of Fame chances: Lock

Summary: Nine-time All-Star, nine-time All-Defense, two-time first-team All-NBA, Defensive Player of the Year, championship with the Heat in 2006, Olympic gold medalist in 1996 and 2000, retired as No. 4 in career steals and No. 8 in assists.

Rick Pitino

Chances: Good

Summary: The only coach to take three schools to the Final Four, won the 1996 national championship with Kentucky and has a strong chance this season with Louisville (with the title game hours after the Hall of Fame announcement), has been to the Final Four seven times, coached the Knicks and Celtics.

Mitch Richmond

Original Hall of Fame chances: Good

Updated Hall of Fame chances: Not-so-good.

Summary: Six-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, three-time second-team All-NBA, averaged 21 points a game for 10 consecutive seasons, member of the 2002 championship team with the Lakers, won a gold medal in the 1996 Olympics and a bronze in 1988.

Jerry Tarkanian

Hall of Fame Chances: Decent

Summary: Won 990 games in his college career, guided UNLV to the 1990 national championship, four trips to the Final Four, owns the highest junior-college winning percentage (.891), coached the Spurs. Back on the ballot after being removed for lack of support, there is a renewed push for induction with Tarkanian in failing health.

Winners who receive at least 18 of 24 votes in anonymous voting will be announced Monday in Atlanta as part of Final Four festivities. Inductees from the Women’s committee, with North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell and former star guard Dawn Staley as finalists, will be revealed at the same time. Roger Brown (ABA committee), Edwin B. Henderson (Early African American Pioneers), Oscar Schmidt (International), Richard Guerin (Veterans) and Russ Granik (Contributor) have already been elected.

The enshrinement ceremony is Sept. 8 in Springfield.

This Could Be The Year Of Gary Payton

HOUSTON – The day did not belong to Gary Payton. He merely took a predictable step from Hall of Fame nominee to finalist for the Class of 2013, was one of 10 candidates to advance through the North American committee, and on the same Friday it was announced that Roger Brown, Richie Guerin, Russ Granik and others had been elected.

This could become Payton’s year, though. He is the most-deserving candidate with NBA ties to be inducted into the Hall when the second and final round of voting is revealed April 8 at the Final Four in Atlanta, there is a chance he will be enshrined with friend Spencer Haywood, a fellow Las Vegas resident and former SuperSonic, and it could be happening within months of the NBA returning to his beloved Seattle.

That would be enough being on the good side of the basketball gods for one year, except that Payton he has more than an emotional rooting interest in the group led by Chris Hansen and Steve Ballmer closing the deal on the Kings sale and relocation: The Glove has, he told, had conversations with Hansen about joining the front office of a Seattle operation.

He sees himself as an assistant general manager with a strong voice in personnel decisions – as if the legendary trash talker could have any other kind – and not some famous figurehead with a ceremonial role. (There is no interest in coach.) More than anything, though, Payton sees himself getting back into the NBA after being retired since 2007 following a career as a dominant two-way point guard who would further turn opponents into scorched Earth with his words on the court.

“I would rather be an assistant,” he said. “Right now, you’ve got to work at being a GM. You’ve got to learn a lot. You’ve got take your lumps. I think I would rather take my lumps and be behind somebody and learn it and get taught the right way to do it and then in a couple of years be that type of person.”

And the conversations with Hansen?

“I talk to Chris all the time,” Payton said, adding: “He knows. He’s already knowing anyway that he would want me to be a part of the team anyway. I’ve been with Chris and talked to Chris for a long time.”

Payton was joined by Maurice Cheeks, Bernard King, Tom Heinsohn (as a coach, in addition to his 1986 induction as a player), Mitch Richmond, Rick Pitino, Guy Lewis, Haywood, Jerry Tarkanian and Tim Hardaway as finalists via the North American committee, the panel that handles the majority of nominees with NBA backgrounds. Anyone who receives support on at least 18 of 24 ballots will be enshrined in the Springfield, Mass., basketball museum.

Dawn Staley, a five-time WNBA All-Star, and North Carolina women’s coach Sylvia Hatchell advanced through the Women’s committee and face the same voting process in the second round. Those results will also be announced at the men’s Final Four.

Brown’s election from the ABA panel, one of five groups that decide on the honor with a single ballot, will continue a strong Pacers presence at the late-summer ceremony. The four-time ABA All-Star averaged 17.4 points in eight seasons in the red, white and blue ball league and was part of three title teams in Indianapolis.

Guerin was voted in by the Veterans committee after a 13-year career with the Knicks and St. Louis/Atlanta Hawks with six All-Star appearances and a reputation as one of the best all-around players in the game. He was the first New York player to score 2,000 points in a season.

Granik, elected as a Contributor, spent 30 years in the league office before leaving in 2005 as deputy commissioner and chief operating officer. He played a major role in the NBA expanding beyond North America and with many top international players coming to the United States in the early days of the overseas influence.

Oscar Schmidt, a dazzling scorer from Brazil who also starred in Europe, was voted in via the International panel. He is best known in North America for the gold-medal game of the 1987 Pan-American Games in Indianapolis, the day Schmidt scored 46 points to lead Brazil to a victory over a United States collegiate squad with David Robinson, Danny Manning, Dan Majerle, Rex Chapman and others.

Edwin B. Henderson, known as the Godfather of Black Basketball, was elected by the Early African-American Pioneers committee for his role in the expansion of the game.