Gary Payton was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame's Class of 2013 in Springfield, Mass., on Sunday.
The former Sonics guard, known as "The Glove" for his defensive prowess, was presented by John Stockton and George Gervin. The nine-time All-Star opened his acceptance speech by explaining his recent assertion that Stockton was the toughest player he ever had to guard, Michael Jordan included.
"I've been getting a lot of slack for this guy here," Payton said, turning to look at Stockton. "Everybody's been asking me why I said he's the toughest guy to guard... instead of Michael Jordan. First of all, it's my opinion so that's the way it's going to go.
"A little short story about him. ... When I got into the NBA and I wasn't as good I thought I was going to be for the first two years, I watched him. And when I watched him, he's a player all kids should watch right now. I might have been more athletic than he was, but he did it the same way every night. Every night. For a guy, for him to only play 32 minutes, come in and shoot the ball 12 times, make nine or 10 of them shots, shoot eight free throws and make seven of them, and then have 15 assists and four steals, that's the reason why he's the hardest person I ever had to guard and why I respect him very much."
In a funny, personal speech that drew repeated laughter, Payton riffed on his family, his former teammates and his reputation for being a notorious trash talker. Here are a few of his best one-liners.
- Payton on the unusual names for two of his three sons: "I want to thank my kids Racquel, Gary Jr., Gary the second -- yeah, I had a George Foreman moment, yeah -- and my baby boy Julian."
- Payton on Shawn Kemp, his 1990s alley-oop partner in crime with the Seattle SuperSonics: "For my Sonics teammates, I share this honor with you, especially the Reign Man, Shawn Kemp. You're talking about that Lob City over there with the Clippers, we were the original Lob City."
- Payton bragged about his trash talking, singling out fellow Hall of Famer and wordsmith Reggie Miller as he did so: "Overcoming obstacles in high school, like not making grades and missing out playing my whole sophomore season. At this point, I understand the reason for those hurdles and I appreciate the silver lining that followed: becoming an All-Star, an Olympic Gold Medalist and a world champion. And don't forget, I am the greatest trash talker of all time, Reggie. But you know what? I can back it up."
Video of Payton's full speech is below.