Gary Payton was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last weekend, and while he won the lone championship of his career as a member of the Miami Heat, there was little question that he’d go into the Hall as a Seattle Supersonic.
Payton played more than 12 seasons in Seattle, and maintains passionate feelings about the city to this day.
He remains unhappy about how things went down surrounding his trade to Milwaukee, and the ownership situation that eventually saw the team relocated to Oklahoma City.
“He just messed up our whole [franchise] and people did leave Seattle alone when he owned the team,” said Payton. “That’s why he had to sell it again, because he was struggling. He made a lot of silly moves and the first silly move was getting rid of me.”
Payton was 34 and in the final year of his contract when the Sonics dealt him and Desmond Mason to Milwaukee for Allen, Ronald Murray, Kevin Ollie, and a first-round pick that became Luke Ridnour. Payton finished his career with the Bucks, Lakers, Celtics, and finally two seasons with the Heat.
“I wasn’t asking for a lot; I never asked for a new contract [before my previous one expired],” Payton said about his final season in Seattle. “All I asked was whether we were going to get an extension [in the offseason] and [Schultz] made it seem like, ‘I don’t care about you no more, you’re nothing.’ So, that’s what happened. He [saw] that wasn’t the right way and the whole franchise went downhill from there.”
Payton doesn’t come off as bitter, but rather as someone who never wanted to leave Seattle. And he’s clearly still upset with Schultz for that, even all these years later.