Gary “The Glove” Payton made his name in Seattle and he desperately wants his former city to get its team back.
Seattle has been without a team since 2008, when the team moved to Oklahoma City. Payton, who was announced as one of the 12 finalists for the Hall of Fame in 2013, said he’s hoping a team will return to Seattle.
“It’s very positive. We just have to see, we’re just going to leave it in the hands of the NBA and see what happens,” Payton said. “I have to give all the respect to Chris Hansen for making this happen. I’m with him all the time, talk to him all the time. He’s given the city of Seattle a great opportunity to get a basketball team and all we can do is hope.”
When asked if he’d go in the Hall of Fame as a SuperSonic, Payton said it would be a no-brainer and that he “would never disrespect Seattle like that.” Payton played 12 full seasons as a SuperSonic after being taken by Seattle second overall in 1990.
“I’m feeling a lot of confidence from everybody,” he said. “That’s what I hear. We just have to hope.”
A deal to buy the Kings by a group that includes Chris Hansen could be finalized and approved by the NBA Board of Governors soon. But Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson is trying to make a plan to keep the Kings in his city.
But Payton also feels for Sacramento, which might lose its team to Seattle. For Payton, Seattle losing the SuperSonics still stings.
“Kevin Johnson, I understand where he’s coming from,” Payton said. “He’s the mayor of Sacramento, I understand what he’s going through. He’s going through the same thing we went through six years ago. He’s trying to keep his team there.
“But I really feel for our team. I want us to have a team back. I hate that it has to go like this, that we have to go buy a team to bring another team there. It’s really difficult for me to be with both sides.”
Payton, a nine-time All-Star, said he would happily be a part of any celebration or event that a new Seattle team would have.
“I’m always going to participate in anything that happens in Seattle,” he said. “That’s my love. I was there for 13 years. I love the city a lot.”