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Originally published Monday, April 8, 2013 at 8:46 PM

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Gary Payton humbled by Hall of Fame honor

Gary Payton, who learned to play defense and trash-talk like few others while growing up, was elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame on Monday...

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Great class! Wish Spencer was a part of it. I remember going to a game Gary's rookie... MORE
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Gary Payton, who learned to play defense and trash-talk like few others while growing up, was elected to the Naismith Hall of Fame on Monday.

Payton, 44, who starred for the Sonics and played for 17 seasons in the NBA, was joined in the seven-member class by former NBA star Bernard King, Louisville coach Rick Pitino and former UNLV coach Jerry Tarkanian.

Also included in this year's class are North Carolina women's coach Sylvia Hatchell; former Houston coach Guy Lewis; and Dawn Staley, a star in the WNBA and at Virginia.

Nicknamed "The Glove" because of his defensive tenacity, Payton in 1996 became the only point guard to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. He retired as the only player in NBA history to accumulate 20,000 points, 5,000 rebounds, 8,000 assists and 2,000 steals.

Above all else — including winning an NBA championship as a reserve with the Miami Heat in 2006 — Payton will long be known as one of the game's great talkers.

But Monday, Payton was nearly at a loss for words.

"When I started playing basketball and got in the NBA, I just wanted to be a guy in the NBA doing something," Payton said. "But even as my career went on and I got better, (I) never still thought about being in the Hall of Fame. I'm still not thinking about it. I don't feel like I'm here now. It's like a dream."

Payton was a nine-time all-star, nine-time first-team all-defense selection and two-time Olympic gold medalist.

Pitino said Monday would be a memorable day for him. Pitino became the first coach in NCAA history to win a national championship with two different colleges when Louisville defeated Michigan in the title game at the Georgia Dome.

In his career Pitino has made 17 tournament appearances in 27 years. He has led six teams to the Final Four and won his first championship at Kentucky in 1996. He is the only coach to lead three schools to the Final Four.

Tarkanian, 82, was a coach for 30 years. He spent time at Long Beach State and Fresno State, but was most successful and remembered mostly for his teams at UNLV. He coached an up-tempo style of play that led the Rebels to four Final Four appearances and a championship in 1990.

The five direct inductees who were previously announced were Edwin E.B. Henderson by the Early African Pioneer Committee; longtime Indiana Pacers guard Roger Brown; Oscar Schmidt of Brazil, the leading scorer in Olympic history; Richie Guerin, a star for the Knicks in the 1950; and Russ Granik, the longtime assistant commissioner of the NBA.

The induction ceremony will be Sept. 8 in Springfield, Mass.


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