Posts Tagged ‘Gary Payton’

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.

Hall of Fame Debate: Most Deserving

The updated rankings, following last week’s release of the nominees for the Class of 2013 in Springfield, Mass., includes one stretch and one asterisk pick, but the premise is the same as the standings from last April in the wake of the election for the Class of 2012: The order of most deserving among candidates on the ballot with NBA or ABA ties.

The fine print is important. This list does not weigh cases from the amateur and women’s game or most from the International, Early African-American Pioneers and Veterans categories. It’s NBA and ABA. And, it’s people under consideration by voters, not anyone deserving of induction. Gregg Popovich and David Stern, among others, have made it clear they do not yet want to be nominated, just as Jerry Sloan held out for years before finally agreeing in 2009 to undergo the discomfort of friends and peers saying nice things about him.

There is obviously a new No. 1 that creates a domino effect, now that Gary Payton is under consideration, and also alterations lower on the list after the inclusion of other new and renewed nominees or simply a change of thinking. Plus, Mark Jackson is off the Hall ballot after failing to get a single vote from nine panelists in three consecutive years. (Jackson was always a long shot for enshrinement – consistently good, never great – but No. 3 on the career assist list has to at least get someone away from 0 for 27.)

The outcome of the first round of voting for the North American committee, which handles most nominees with an NBA background, will be announced at All-Star weekend, with the survivors then advancing to a final layer of balloting before inductees are revealed at the Final Four. Candidates via the ABA committee face a single ballot before a maximum of one winner is named at All-Star.

1. Payton, North American committee: The Glove was selected first-team All-Defense by coaches nine consecutive times in the 1990s and 2000s, All-NBA twice and Defensive Player of the Year once as chosen by the media, and part of two Olympic golds and one NBA championship. The anonymous Hall voters have been hard lately on first-ballot nominees – Dennis Rodman went from not making finalist in 2010 all the way to being elected in ’11 and Reggie Miller had the same bounce back from 2011 to ’12 – but giving Payton the same rookie hazing would generate the largest outcry yet.

2. Bernard King, North American: He averaged 22.5 points despite two serious knee injuries, finished better than 20 a game in 11 different seasons and was also a scoring star at Tennessee, an important consideration in a process where college achievements count. King was first-team All-NBA only twice and second-team once, but he played at the same time Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Dominique Wilkins were working forwards. (more…)

Seattle’s Return To The NBA Getting Closer?


It was one of those days where people remember precisely where they were when they got the news. Like assassinations, market crashes and so many other seismic world events, the day Seattle lost the SuperSonics — officially, July 2, 2008 — didn’t just come and go. It seared itself into the hearts and psyches of NBA fans in that Pacific Northwest city.

“It killed me, man,” former Sonics coach George Karl said Wednesday night. “I was in the Seattle area with my daughter, in Olympia. There were rumors and then it was over. It happened so quick.”

There had been promises, there had been worries, there had been political wrangling. When the clock ran out, all that remained were accusations, recriminations and, yes, tears. The reality was stark: Starbucks impresario Howard Schultz and his partner had sold the SuperSonics to an investment group headed by Oklahoma City businessman Clay Bennett. Talks about a publicly financed arena broke down, and the Sonics were headed to Oklahoma and a new life as the eventual Thunder.

Forty-one years of NBA history was over. The source of some of the league’s biggest names and most entertaining teams — and the only Seattle franchise to claim a championship in major professional sports — was gone.

“Destroyed,” was the word chosen by Boston’s Jason Terry, who grew up in Seattle and starred at Frankin High, which is about 5 miles from the Sonics’ old haunt, Key Arena. “There [were] all kind of ‘Save the Sonics’ shirts, signs and blogs.”

As of Wednesday though — four years, six months and seven days since the moving vans rolled in — Seattle is as close as it’s been to getting the NBA back. Investor Chris Hansen was close to a deal to purchase the Sacramento Kings and relocate them to the Emerald City, according to multiple media outlets.

First reported by Yahoo! Sports, Hansen — who already has a deal to build a new arena, this time largely through corporate funding — was offering the Maloof family that owns the Kings more than $500 million. The team’s future in Sacramento has been shaky for several seasons because of squabbling over a new arena in the California capital, with possible destinations such as Orange County and Las Vegas mentioned in the past.

Seattle, via Hansen, has been an interested party from the start, though. According to Yahoo!, the Kings would be renamed the SuperSonics, begin play in time for the 2013-14 season and be based in KeyArena for two years while their new home is constructed.

Just how imminent the sale might be morphed through the day Wednesday; some reports out of Sacramento had the Maloofs reconsidering Hansen’s offer. Details of Hansen’s financing for the arena in Seattle’s “SoDo” section — south of downtown — still must be worked out. In October, he reached an agreement with local government to build the $490 million facility near the city’s other stadiums, Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field. An estimated $290 million would come from private investments, with $200 million in public financing repaid through rent, admission taxes and Hansen’s own sources, the Associated Press reported.

The NBA, meanwhile, has its own requirements for a franchise sale and relocation. For the former, an application for transfer must be filed, due diligence is performed on the people and finances involved and then the league’s Board of Governors votes, with 75 percent approval — 23 out of the current 30 teams — needed for new ownership.

For relocation, a team must apply by March 1 if it wants to move in time for the following season. The NBA’s relocation committee than has 120 days to study the proposal and make its report to the Board of Governors. When the owners vote, a simple majority — 16 of 30 — is needed for approval.

The NBA declined to comment on Monday’s news reports. It is believed that KeyArena, the Sonics’ home before their departure and the driving force in Schultz’s decision to sell, would be acceptable as a temporary home should the deal go through.

Hansen is a Seattle native and San Francisco resident who made his fortune working with Blue Ridge Capital and, since 2008, as managing partner of the Valiant Capital firm he founded. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and two members of the Nordstrom department-store family are among his fellow investors in the NBA deal. (more…)

Stymied Harden Will Have To Adjust

HOUSTON — It wasn’t the first time that George Karl tossed the kitchen sink at the biggest gun in the Rockets’ holster.

Back in the day when Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp knew a thing or two about playing defense in rainy Seattle, Karl would have just about everyone on his roster throw an umbrella over Hakeem Olajuwon.

So even though Andre Iguodala is a top-flight perimeter defender, the plan was to have constant help coming all night against James Harden.

The league’s leading scorer coming into the game at 35.3 points per game, Harden shot just 5-for-15 from the field (0-for-5 on 3-pointers) to finish with 15 points in Denver’s 93-87 win.

While Iguodala had the head-up assignment of staying with and in front of Harden from start to finish, the Nuggets big men made it a point to step up and show on the pick and roll and power forward Kenneth Faried was always lurking on Harden’s moves toward the basket.

Against Andre Iguodala and the Nuggets, Houston’s James Harden struggled on Wednesday night.

“Iguodala’s pretty good,” Karl said. “But we wanted to put two on Harden and try not to ever give him gaps. I thought early in the game he had some fast break opportunities that we got our hands on the ball and got some turnovers [on plays] that he sometimes he turns into three-point plays.

“I thought Kenneth was very aware and alert to him. We just wanted to put two guys on him as much as possible. Also Andre’s long and gets a lot of deflections. He must have had five or six.”

The Rockets cut a 10-point Denver lead down to 91-87 and had a chance to get closer when Harden squirted through a gap down the left side of the lane. Faried swooped in to reject the layup with 47.9 seconds to go and eventually hammered down a dunk to seal the win.

After his blazing start to the season scoring 37 and 45 points to earn Western Conference player of the week honors in leading the Rockets to a 2-0 start, Harden has made just 13 of 39 shots in back to back losses to the Trail Blazers and Nuggets.

It was one thing for the Rockets to catch everyone in the NBA off-guard by making the blockbuster trade with Oklahoma City on the cusp of the season opener and for Harden to take the world by storm, cruising and freelancing all over the court against the Pistons and Hawks. But that was never going to last once every team got a look at Harden in the Rockets offense and scouting reports began to focus on stopping him as the only real elite level scoring threat.

Iguodala’s pressure and the rest of the Nuggets’ swarming defense also forced Harden into six turnovers.

“Even though we didn’t play well, it’s still just our fourth game together,” Harden said. “As the games go on, we’ll get better and it’s just the fact that we haven’t played together, we haven’t had a training camp or have time to really put in some sets, so we’re kind of figuring things out as we go.”

But the truth is it’s more than that. It’s Harden going from being the third man in the Thunder attack, potentially explosive in any given game, now he has to be consistently potent and effective on every night.

Following the harassment from Iguodala, Harden gets run-ins with stout defenders Tony Allen of Memphis and LeBron James of Miami in the next five days.

“He’s going to have a tough task of being the main guy defenses lock into every night and just got to be really focused and adjust to it,” Iguodala said.

To Harden this is all a new experience. To Karl it’s simply old hat. It’s hard to shoot through an umbrella.

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 90) The Season Opener With Rick Fox

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – With a new NBA season comes new expectations, new responsibilities, new faces and new beginnings.

The same can be said of the Hang Time Podcast, the award-winning Hang Time Podcast mind you, and our new starting lineup.

In addition to the weekly musings of myself and co-host Lang Whitaker, who survived Sandy without a scratch, former Los Angeles Lakers star and NBA TV’s Rick Fox — three-time NBA champion/producer/actor/renaissance man — joins the party this season as the third member of the crew.

Fox couldn’t have shown up at a more opportune time than Episode 90, what with the Lakers dropping their season opener to the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday night, setting off a mini-panic across the Southland and in Lakers’ circles around the globe. He was there the last time the Lakers assembled a Hall of Fame squad (Karl Malone and Gary Payton joining Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant and Co. for the 2003-04 season), which ultimately turned out to be a failed attempt at winning a title.

We didn’t let the Celtics off the hook either, not after the way Kevin Garnett treated former teammate Ray Allen last night in Miami (with the no-look, no-reaction move when Allen tried to greet him). The Heat rang in the new season right, collecting their championship rings, hanging their banner and then handling their rivals before a packed house.

Check out all that and more on Episode 90 of the Hang Time Podcast, The Season Opener with Rick Fox.


As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, co-hosts Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and Sekou Smith of, as well as our new superproducer Gregg (just like Popovich) Waigand and the best engineer in the business, Jarell “I Heart Peyton Manning” Wall.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here, or get the xml feed if you want to subscribe some other, less iTunes-y way.

Blogtable: Lakers’ Season Outlook

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes to weigh in on the three most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

Blogtable Week 1: Harden Trade | Under-the-radar stories | Lakers’ outlook

The Lakers went 0-8 in the preseason. What’s the worst case and best case for this team this season? What do you expect out of them?

Steve Aschburner: The worst-case scenario is one in which panic drives everything, from overreaction to the sputtering start and calls for Mike Brown‘s head, to endless speculation about the return of Jeannie Buss‘ boyfriend and a season in which they never really get traction. Best case? The Lakers travel along this learning curve fast, figure out the best ways for Steve Nash to trigger their attack and play up to their 65-victory potential. I’m still expecting a stellar regular season, followed by the challenges of fatigue, injury concerns and matchups in a tough Western Conference playoff bracket. It’s either them or the Thunder in The Finals, more drama than we’ll get out East.

Fran Blinebury: That’s easy. They’re the Yankees. Best case: rings. Worst case: no rings. Despite all of the Hollywood stars sitting courtside, this isn’t the Oscars where “it’s an honor just to be nominated.” With OKC taking a short-term step back with the trade of James Harden, the Spurs’ age a factor and the Clippers not yet ready, I think they come out of the West and take down the Heat in the fantasy Finals commissioner David Stern wants as his farewell present.

Jeff Caplan: We’re talking preseason? The only thing notable about 0-8 is the injuries that forced that record. Kobe Bryant has dealt with multiple injuries, Dwight Howard is no doubt going to be sore at times after back surgery and Steve Nash’s back will always need monitoring. So a crop of injuries is a worst-case scenario. But, enough of that. The best case is what I expect: Exciting, hold-onto-your-hat, must-see basketball, the kind of holy-cow, did-you-just-see-that kind of stuff that L.A. and the league hasn’t witnessed since Magic Johnson ran Showtime. We’re talking about a starting five with three Hall of Famers and maybe a fourth, if you throw in Pau Gasol.

Scott Howard-Cooper: I expect they will be one of the best teams in the league. It’s just going to take time. That was obvious from the beginning, and from opening night. Best-case scenario? A June parade, obviously. Worst case? A second-round elimination in a repeat of the last two playoffs. The preseason record means nothing, by the way.

Sekou Smith: The Lakers are going to be a work in progress until around Christmas. There is no way around it when you assemble that much talent and that many egos. This group is reminiscent of the 2003-04 Lakers who added Karl Malone and Gary Payton to the Shaq-Kobe matrix. They won a lot of games, made it to The Finals and almost won it all. But they were flawed from the start. They won on talent but didn’t have the chemistry (or luck and good health) to get past Detroit in The Finals.

For Chemistry’s Sake, Lakers Need Nash And Howard To … Speak As One (Video)?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We already know that Dwight Howard won’t be ready for the start of his first training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers, his rehabilitation and recovery from spinal surgery shoving back his official start date to the season. And there is no doubt there will be a transition period for the Lakers’ newest acquisitions, namely Howard and two-time MVP Steve Nash, who have to adjust to playing with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.

If Lakers coach Mike Brown can get his players to mesh the way some insiders hope he can (and the way Nash and Howard have in the video, above) then the rest of the Western Conference and the entire league could be in serious trouble this season.

But it’s that chemistry that will most certainly make the difference between the Lakers winning big and just winning the way they have the past two seasons, reasonably successful regular season campaigns that ended rather abruptly in the playoffs at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder, respectively.

It should be noted that both the Mavericks (2011 champs) and Thunder (lost to the Heat in The Finals) went on to represent the Western Conference in the final round of the Larry O’Brien chase.

It should also be noted that the questions about the Lakers’ chemistry aren’t just coming from us.