By Ben Golliver
The 2013 Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame class is set for another down year in terms of superstar wattage, but perhaps one of the NBA's most notorious trash-talkers can put his stamp on it.
Seventeen-year NBA veteran Gary Payton is the clear headliner of the 2013 class, whose members were released by NBA.com on Monday and whose finalists will be announced during 2013 All-Star Weekend in Houston.
Known for his lockdown defense and motor mouth, Payton was a nine-time All-Star, a nine-time All-Defensive selection and a nine-time All-NBA selection. Payton teamed with Shawn Kemp to lead the SuperSonics to the 1996 Finals and he tagged along as a reserve on the 2004 Lakers Western Conference championship team and the 2006 Miami Heat title-winning squad. Payton was named Defensive Player of the Year in 1996, the only time since 1988 that a guard has earned that recognition, he led the NBA in steals in 1995-96 and was tops in assists in 1999-2000. Payton, nicknamed "The Glove" for his on-ball defensive prowess, earned more than $104 million during his career, which included stops with the SuperSonics, Lakers, Celtics and Heat. Basketball-Reference.com's Hall of Fame Probability calculator put his odds at 88.3 percent, among the highest scores for retired players who haven't already been inducted. Payton, 44, retired in 2007 with career averages of 16.3 points, 6.7 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game.
The other big NBA names include Maurice Cheeks, Bernard King, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and referee Dick Bavetta. Former NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik is also a nominee.
Cheeks, 56, was a member of the 1983 title-winning Sixers and was named to four All-Star teams and selected to the All-Defensive team five times.
King, 56, was the 1985 scoring champion, a four-time All-Star and a four-time All-NBA selection.
Reinsdorf, 76, has owned the Bulls since 1985, overseeing the Michael Jordan era that won six titles.
Bavetta, 73, has been an NBA official since 1975 and has worked more than 2,500 games.
The international committee's nominee pool includes Vlade Divac, Sarunas Marciulionis and Oscar Schmidt.
Divac, 44, spent 16 seasons with the Lakers, Hornets and Kings, posting career averages of 11.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 3.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. The Serbian center was best known for his unique versatility, passing skills and flopping, and his NBA honors included an All-Star selection in 2001 and the league's citizenship award in 2000. He's been inducted into the FIBA Hall of Fame, won Euroleague Player of the Year honors prior to his NBA arrival in 1989 and he represented Yugoslavia in multiple Olympics, winning a silver medal in 1988 and 1996. Off of his NBA career alone, Divac is not Hall-worthy, but given the international committee set-up, he's a no-brainer.
Marciulionis, 48, spent seven seasons in the NBA, averaging 12.8 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists. He won gold as a member of the USSR team in 1988 and bronze while representing his native Lithuania in 1992 and 1996.
Schmidt, 54, is regarded as one of the best players never to play in the NBA. A Brazilian, he was elected to the FIBA Hall of Fame in 2010 after leading the Italian league in scoring seven times in the 1980s and 1990s. He represented his home country in five Olympics.
North American committee : John Bach, Dick Bavetta, Gene Bess, Maurice Cheeks, Jack Curran, Bobby Dandridge, Lefty Driesell, Bill Fitch, Cotton Fitzsimmons, Travis Grant, Tim Hardaway, Spencer Haywood, Robert Hughes, Kevin Johnson, Marques Johnson, Gene Keady, Bernard King, Guy Lewis, Danny Miles, William, Dick Motta, Curly Neal, Payton, Rick Pitino, Mitch Richmond, Paul Silas, Eddie Sutton, Jerry Tarkanian, Rudy Tomjanovich, Paul Westphal and Gary Williams.
ABA players: Zelmo Beatty, Ron Boone, Roger Brown, Mack Calvin, Louie Dampier, Bob Leonard and George McGinnis.
International committee: Vlade Divac, Sarunas Marciulionis, and Oscar Schmidt.
Contributor category: Al Attles, Marty Blake, Harry Glickman, Russ Granik, Del Harris, Red Klotz, Jerry Krause, Johnny Most, Jerry Reinsdorf, Gene Shue and Donnie Walsh. The full list is up at HoopHall.com.