The door for Gary Payton's return to the Sonics is open now that the two people he feels are responsible for his abrupt departure are no...
MIAMI — The door for Gary Payton’s return to the Sonics is open now that the two people he feels are responsible for his abrupt departure are no longer with the franchise.
After Miami’s 90-87 victory over the Sonics on Tuesday, Payton delivered a few parting shots to former principal owner Howard Schultz, who sold the Sonics to Clay Bennett, and former president and CEO Wally Walker, who resigned two week ago.
“I don’t care much about them and I think the Seattle SuperSonics are finally going in the right direction,” Payton said. “They did what they had to do and I’m glad they got people out of there that to me really didn’t care about the team. People that did what they wanted to do.
Tuesday’s game at a glance
Star of the game: Dwyane Wade scored 13 of his game-high 31 points in the fourth quarter. The Heat star made just 8 of 23 field goals. However, he made 14 of 17 free throws. Wade also had seven rebounds and six assists, which offset seven turnovers.
Play of the game: Late in the second quarter, Wade retrieved a rebound and sprinted upcourt. Before crossing midcourt, he lofted a pass to the rim where Dorell Wright flushed an alley-oop jam.
Turning point: Trailing 88-87 with 19 seconds left, Damien Wilkins slipped in the corner where Udonis Haslem forced a jump ball. Wilkins lost the tip and missed a three-pointer on the ensuing possession that would have tied the score as the buzzer sounded.
Digits: The Sonics have squandered leads with less than five minutes remaining in all three of their defeats.
Next: At Orlando, 4 p.m. today.
“Now I hope they can get back to being a winning, championship team.”
Payton said he’s at peace with the Feb. 20, 2003, trade to Milwaukee that delivered Ray Allen to Seattle. However, he admitted he wanted to retire with the Sonics. After the trade, his career took several unexpected twists and turns.
He helped the Los Angeles Lakers to the 2004 NBA Finals and played a year in Boston before landing with Miami and winning his first championship last season.
And even though he’s at peace with the trade, there’s still some animosity among him, Walker and Schultz.
“Yeah, maybe. I was never thinking about going back there while they were there,” he said. “Those guys, they don’t have a sense of loyalty or a sense of respect for anybody. It wasn’t like the Ackerleys [the Sonics' previous owners]. The Ackerleys were great. They respected me and I respected them. I was loyal to them. I came back. They asked me to. They gave me my respect or what I deserved. I played hard there for years and while the Ackerleys were there, they were the best owners I’ve ever had.
“I probably won’t see them [Walker and Schultz] again in my life. It’s one of those things. If I do, I’ll keep it moving. It’s just one of those things that just happened. It’s over with now. I don’t have to say nothing to them and they don’t have to say nothing to me.”
Payton was one of 16 players voted to the Sonics’ 40th anniversary team and missed Sunday’s celebration at KeyArena.
“I wish I could have been there,” he said.