Gary Payton on Helping Bring NBA Team Back to Seattle: “I’m going to try to be involved as much as possible.”June 14, 2012 – 11:00 am by Michael Bean
It’s a big day in the city of Seattle. There will be a large rally in the Emerald City to show support and grow momentum for the proposed plan to bring professional basketball back to the city. Of course, with the Oklahoma City Thunder on center stage in this year’s Finals, the sub-plot of whether the Thunder’s former home town will get a team again is squarely on the radar. One man scheduled to be in attendance is The Glove…aka Gary Payton. He’ll be a vocal supporter of the city moving forward on building a new stadium and bringing hoops back to town.
Payton joined KJR in Seattle to talk about who he thinks will win the NBA Finals, helping the city of Seattle get its own NBA team so they don’t need to preoccupy themselves with how the Thunder are doing, why he doesn’t think LeBron James needs to win a ring to ‘cement his legacy’, his plans to attend the rally in Seattle in support of bringing NBA basketball back to the city, what his role in the process will be, and his planned meetings with Chris Hansen and the team behind the proposal.
On who he thinks will win the NBA Finals:
“I’m not really neither one of them fan. It’s two great athletes out there, and like I said, whoever wins is going to be the one who doesn’t turn the ball over and can make a lot of quality shots. You’ve got two guys in Durant and LeBron who’s going to take a bulk of the shots, so my hands are up. I would love to see LeBron win one, and I would love to see Kevin Durant win one. It really is going to be whoever is the best team, and right now I can’t tell you who’s going to be the best team because both of them are so athletic and so young, and they do the same things. So I really couldn’t tell you.”
On knowing who the city of Seattle is rooting for in the Thunder-Heat Finals matchup:
“Well I know who the whole state of Washington will be rooting for. But it’s one of those things. I said last night, it’s not our team no more, let’s move on and get our own team, get our own team and then we don’t even have to worry about that team anymore and can go on about our business and make it what it’s supposed to be which is to have our own team. And that’s what we’re going to go out and do on Thursday.”
Whether he thinks LeBron needs to win this series to cement his legacy:
“I don’t think so. Everybody says you need to win a championship to seal a legacy. I didn’t win a championship and I sealed a legacy. And so did Charles Barkley, John Stockton, and Karl Malone. I think them three have done all they could do and they were rewarded for it by going to the Hall of Fame. The only thing people can say is they don’t have a championship, but so what? That means nothing to me. That’s just a ring but it will help. But if you are a great basketball player and you do great things in this sport, you’re going to be rewarded for it. And that happened to them.”
Whether he’ll be in attendance at the Thursday parade in Seattle the show support for bringing an NBA team back to the city:
“I sure will. I get into Seattle on Wednesday and I’m going to have a good time. When I come to Seattle I always have a good time. I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Like I said, it’s time for us to get our team back. This is a great proposal on the desk right now for the Seattle people and the politicians in Seattle. I think we should go ahead with this, we’re never going to have this opportunity again. Let’s go ahead and let’s lock this up, and let’s get NBA and the NHL back and let’s start having fun again in the Emerald City. And I think that’s what we need.”
If he has any plans to meet with Chris Hansen about the proposal and other matters involving bringing a team back:
“Well we’re going to have a dinner tomorrow. We’re going to have a meeting and we’re going to talk about a lot of things. Right now, me and a lot of the former players want to be involved very much. I do too. I think if a team comes back, I want to be very much involved. I want to be one of the guys who goes and helps make decisions with these teams to get great basketball to come back. Yeah we’re going to talk a lot things, and hopefully I can become very much involved with this like other basketball players have done…like a Michael Jordan or somebody. Seattle is like home to me, I may not have been born there, but that’s my home. I was there for 13 years, and that’s where my legacy started and that’s where it’s going to end. So, yes, I’m going to try to be involved as much as possible.”